Near misses can provide valuable insight into improving workplace safety.
They should be taken seriously and treated as if they were accidents so you can improve your organisation's health and safety performance.
Let's dive deep into understanding what a near miss is, why it's essential to report them, why some employees don't report them, and how you can make it easier for your team to report near misses or hazards.
According to the HSE, a near miss is "an event not causing harm, but has the potential to cause injury or ill health".
Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), a near miss is a "dangerous occurrence" and refers to accidents that almost happen.
Although near misses are not as severe as incidents that cause injuries or damage, they still need to be taken seriously and reported according to legislation.
In addition to internal reporting, organisations in the UK are legally obliged to report near misses under RIDDOR. According to RIDDOR, employers must report to the local authorities any near misses involving the following items:
Despite the legal obligation to report near misses, it is not uncommon to hear that many employees don't report near misses. While it is difficult to determine how many near misses go unreported, one survey by Accident Advice Helpline UK can shed some insights.
Accident Advice Helpline had asked respondents if they would report any workplace hazards they saw. Although the surveyed question was about hazards and not directly about near misses, we can draw some parallels because hazards and near misses are similar.
After all, neither has caused harm or damage but has the potential to do so.
The survey by Accident Advice Helpline revealed that the respondents had seen the following hazards at work:
|Hazard||Percentage who saw it||Potential incident|
|Spillages||58.70%||Slips, trips, and falls|
|Lack of safety around machinery||56.60%||- Contact with moving machinery
- Struck by a moving object
- Trapped by something collapsing/overturning
|Wrong equipment being used for tasks||37.80%|
|Not wearing the correct health & safety equipment||36.30%|
|Working at height without following health and safety requirements||29%||Falls from height|
Worryingly, the survey went on to show that 1 in 6 respondents did not report the hazards they saw, which increases the chances of the associated potential incidents.
From the survey, we can see that a significant percentage of those surveys have identified hazards that can lead to serious incidents, which is worrying when some go unreported.
Not reporting these hazards or near misses can lead to serious injuries or even fatalities. Consider these facts from HSE’s Summary Statistics for Great Britain 2021:
Another 2020/2021 HSE report showed that fatal injuries were caused by:
According to the same survey by Accident Advice Helpline UK, the reasons they did not report the hazards or potential near misses and incidents are:
Based on these responses, we can summarise that the three main reasons employees don’t report hazards or near misses are:
To improve near miss reporting in your organisation, you'll need to make it essential, safe, and easy for anyone to report near misses.
The first step is to train your employees to understand that near misses are not a trivial matter.
Here are some tips on what to include in your near miss reporting training to make it more effective.
Since more than 20% surveyed by Accident Advice Helpline UK expressed fear of reporting hazards, ensure your employees know it is safe to report hazards, near misses, and incidents. You can do this by:
The traditional way of reporting near misses is cumbersome.
First, an employee must fill in a physical form and then file a report. Some may need to report it to their supervisor personally. Then, the report is filed and processed. Analysing and following up on the report is another long chain of paperwork and filing.
Let's face it. When there's this much friction in this process, it's not surprising that many employees feel it's a burden to report a near miss.
Since the near miss didn't harm anyone or cause any damage, they think reporting a near miss is not worth the time, effort and impact on productivity.
However, the long-term implications of not reporting near misses can be more detrimental.
By eliminating the friction in reporting and reducing the negative impact on productivity that traditional reporting can have, you can remove the obstacles and bureaucracy that prevent employees from reporting near misses.
Imagine if reporting a near miss was as easy as pulling out a mobile phone and writing a status update or uploading a photo on social media?
With a near miss reporting system like Incidents, this is possible.
Here’s a glimpse into how easy it is for your organisation to capture near miss data with our near miss reporting system:
With a near miss reporting app, employees can easily report near misses or hazards.
Here’s how Incidents makes it easy to follow up on near miss reports to prevent future events.
Removing the friction to report near misses and hazards is integral to building a first-class workplace safety culture.
If your organisation is still operating on physical forms and legacy systems to report near misses, it's time to switch to an incident reporting software. .
By making it a priority for employees to quickly, easily, and safely report near misses and hazards, you're also sending out the message that you care for their safety.
Showing this dedication to improving workplace safety can make employees feel more valued while reducing incidents to even minimise downtime and boost productivity.
Talk to our sales to learn more on how you can get started with Vatix’s near miss reporting software.