Best Practices to Establish a Near Miss Reporting System

April 3, 2015

The National Safety Council (NSC) defines a “near miss” as an unplanned event that did not result in an injury, illness or damage, but could have.

Many company safety measures are reactive instead of proactive, and some organizations wait for losses to occur before taking steps to prevent recurrence. Near miss accidents are often overlooked and dismissed as a “close call” because no actual harm was done.

NSC recommends the following tips to establish and improve a near miss reporting system:

• Leadership must establish a reporting culture reinforcing that every opportunity to identify and control hazards, reduce risk and prevent harmful incidents must be acted on.

• The reporting system needs to be non-punitive and, if desired by the person reporting, anonymous.

• Investigate near miss incidents to identify the root cause and the weaknesses in the system that resulted in the circumstances that led to the near miss.

• Use investigation results to improve safety systems, hazard control, risk reduction and lessons learned.

• Near miss reporting is important to preventing serious, fatal and catastrophic incidents that are less frequent but more harmful than other incidents.