Learning Lessons from Near-Misses

Many types of incidents that need to be properly managed and reported can occur within an organisation; such as Employee Accidents, Data Breaches, Defective Products and Environmental Impacts.

Most organisations will have procedures for managing these varying types of incident. Incidents where there has been an observable impact, such as an injury or a breach of the law.

The Incident Management Process often includes procedures outlining an initial response, followed by an analysis of the root-cause and a collection of evidence; leading to a robust corrective action.

However, often major incidents do not just suddenly occur, particularly where humans are involved. It can be difficult to capture information on any ‘near-misses’ in the lead up to an incident, but paying attention to these could significantly reduce the risk of a serious incident occurring.


Near-Miss, Near-Hit, Close-Call

There are several terms used across different industries but the principle is the same. According to ISO 45001, a near-miss is an incident where “no injury and/or ill health occurs”, a similar definition can be applied in other management disciplines.

The absence of an impact or consequence of a near-miss, makes it difficult to capture information on them, and often employees would rather continue their work or find a work-around.

But by doing so, an opportunity to improve business processes and reduce the risk of a more serious incident occurring, can be missed.


Near-Miss Reporting

Perhaps one of the main barriers that can stop near-misses being reported, is the fear of blame or disciplinary action. So to encourage reporting, organisations must first create an open and inclusive culture.

The benefits of reporting near-misses should be communicated throughout the organisation and be clearly supported by management / supervisory levels.

Next, an easy means of raising a report is needed. Reporting methods can vary depending on the organisation and activity being undertaken, but a simple physical notebook, email or online form are all acceptable methods.

Finally, people need to see that the reports are being taken seriously.  This means reviewing near-miss reports on a regular basis, discussing them in company meetings and making changes where possible.


Sharing Information Across Interested Parties

Sharing information on near-misses with interested parties produces many benefits.

Not only can the lessons from one depot be learnt from by another, but including interested parties, such as your supply chain, can help to implement business changes that will reduce the risk of an incident occurring.

Again there are a variety of means to do this, including on a case-by-case basis or a company newsletter – promoting the positive steps taken to address a near-miss.


Improving Business Processes

The focus of near-miss reporting should always be on improving the organisation through better business processes, technologies, training and ways of working.

Internal Audits can also be a valuable tool in evaluating the effectiveness of any corrective actions taken and ensuring a consistent approach throughout your organisation.


More Help with Near-Miss Reporting?

Contact us for help with near-miss reporting, Internal Audits or ISO Standards.

Lauren Tobin
Lauren Tobin
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