21 Sep Incidents in the Workplace – Near miss
How often does something happen that could have injured us, but doesn’t and we think wow, that was lucky and we move on.
- An employee trips over an extension cord that lies across the floor, but avoids a fall by grabbing the corner of a desk or stumbles but manages to catch their balance and is not injured.
- An outward-opening door nearly hits a worker who jumps back just in time to avoid being hit.
- Instead of using a ladder, an employee puts a box on top of a drum, loses balance and stumbles to the ground. Although the employee is shaken, there is no injury.
Did you know that under the OHS and WHS legislation, even though there has been no injury, the above examples are still classified as an incident and you have an obligation to report them?
What the legislation states:
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 -PART 5—DUTIES RELATING TO INCIDENTS Section 37, part 2 …’an incident that exposes a person in the immediate vicinity to an immediate risk to the person’s health or safety’.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Part 3—section 37 states: ‘dangerous incident means an incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure’.
These types of incidence are commonly referred to as a near miss. A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage.
Employees may not realise they are expected to report near misses – as stated above, under the legislation, they are considered an incident—no matter how trivial they may seem. Although there may not have been a serious outcome, these incidents could result in future incidents
Let’s have another look at our previous examples. If the above near misses are not reported and the hazard remains with no controls in place, the following could occur:
- An employee trips over an extension cord that lies across the floor, falls and breaks his ankle
- An outward-opening door hits a worker who wasn’t able to avoid being hit which results in a broken nose.
- Instead of using a ladder, an employee puts a box on top of a drum, loses balance and falls to the ground resulting in a broken arm and concussion from their head hitting the ground.
So why is it important to report these?
By recognising near misses and reporting them, it enables appropriate action to be taken to correct the underlying problem (the hazard), employees will not only reduce the number of near misses, but more importantly, they will reduce the number of actual incidents in the future.
So next time you almost trip, or any other near miss occurs – remember REPORT IT!
Prevention is always better (and usually more cost effective) than treatment!
HBA Training Consultant