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Video Q&A - How do you treat a near miss?

By Bryan McWhorter | Last updated: November 18, 2019
Presented by AD Safety Network

As safety professionals, we may spend a lot of our time trying to uncover unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors, and that's the whole purpose of doing a hazard assessment. There are two events that can uncover these for us, and those are accidents and near-misses.

Hi, Bryan McWhorter here for Safeopedia. Let's take a look at near-misses.

As I said, they provide an opportunity because they uncover an unsafe condition or unsafe behavior, and unlike an accident—no one got hurt. So, that near-miss is an unsafe condition or behavior waving its hand, getting our attention. The first step is to make sure that your employees take these events serious, as well. You want them reporting them just like they would an accident. So you want them to see that these are opportunities to keep themselves and co-workers safe.


Let's walk through how to treat a near-miss. First of all, you want to treat it just like you would an accident. It's important to recognize that OSHA, or any safety management system such as a certification system like OHSAS 18001, they're going to want you to treat it just like an accident. You have to validate that you've captured near-misses and you've done full investigations, and put control measures in place.

So, first of all, capture the near-miss, make sure that they are all being reported. Log it, write the event down. In the past when I was a safety officer for a large manufacturing factory, I treated them the same as I would an accident, I used the same forms. I would do my investigation, collect evidence and make sure control measures were put in place. So, just follow that. Treat it like it was an accident.

Once you put your control measure in place, you want to validate that it is actually working. So, set up a 30-, 60-, and 90-day review. If there is a new guard put in place, you want to make sure that employees haven't removed it. If you require new PPE, again, you want to make sure that employees are actually using the PPE. So, you just need to validate that that control measure is in place and effective.

Again, near-misses are gold to us in that they've uncovered an unsafe condition or unsafe behavior without anyone getting hurt. These are opportunities. If we are spending time doing a hazard assessment looking for unsafe conditions and behaviors, it's kind of nice to have them expose themselves to us without injury.

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Hazards Best Practices

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Written by Bryan McWhorter | Lead Safety Advisor, Author, Writer, Speaker

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Bryan McWhorter is a safety professional with eight years of experience in driving and teaching safety. Bryan gained his knowledge and experience as the safety officer and Senior Trainer for Philips Lighting. Philips is a strong health and well-being company that promotes a safety first culture.

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