“Wow, that was a close call!” “That could have been really bad!” Have you ever heard or iterated these phrases before? Odds are, you likely have. These close calls are known as near misses, in which an unplanned event almost results in an injury or death. These incidents often leave you shaken up and with an elevated heart rate as you contemplate the potential damaging effect the event may have had if things were ever so slightly different. Unfortunately, near misses happen very often in the workplace, especially in more dangerous industries, such as construction. However, the greatest importance lies in reporting these near misses to prevent a catastrophic event from occurring in the future. 

Examples of Near Misses

As discussed, a near miss is an incident that could have had more serious consequences had the timing or circumstances been different. To provide you with some insight as to what a near miss might look like, here are some specific examples:

  • Spotting that an electrical cable is wet, which could lead to electrocution
  • A lack of signage to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in an area where there are hazardous materials
  • Tripping on a wire on a cable on the ground
  • A water leakage that has resulted in slippery floors
  • Loose tiles in the flooring 
  • Materials stored on a shelf that surpass the weight capacity

While this is not an exhaustive list of potential near-miss situations, it is crucial that you are conscientious of your surroundings in order to keep both yourself and your colleagues safe.

The Importance of Creating a Near Miss Reporting System 

Experiencing a near miss situation, while unfortunate, provides optimal opportunity to prevent future harm. Failure to report a near miss accident it is ultimately a missed chance. Furthermore, it is essential that a near miss reporting system is put in place by your company. Employers and managing companies have an important responsibility to create an effective system and encourage its usage. Not only does there need to be a way in which employees can report any incidents, but there needs to be an actionable plan to resolve the issue. By creating this system, a roadmap can be created to prevent future injuries and identify root causes. 

The Role Employees Play

The importance that employees play in a near miss reporting system should not be undermined, as they play just as crucial of a role as managers and employers do. More often than not, it will be the employees who are the ones who are either directly involved in or are witnesses of near miss incidents. The steps they take after identifying a near miss will ultimately make or break the effectiveness of having a near miss reporting system in place.

Why Near Misses are Often Unreported

Unfortunately, near misses often go unreported for a number of reasons – the number one reason being that there was no near miss reporting system in the first place. Additional reasons as to why near misses are oftentimes unreported include:

  • Employee fear of being reprimanded for almost getting involved in an accident
  • A lack of anonymity in the reporting system
  • Not having a streamlined or easily understood process for reporting
  • Reluctance to report due to previously reported incidents not being thoroughly investigated or corrected
  • Lack of motivation, such as an incentive to report

Ultimately, it is up to the company supervisors and employers to create an inviting culture in which reporting is encouraged and welcomed. Something as simple as creating a form in which incidents can be reported is a great step in the right direction.

What To Do If You are Actually Hurt

In the unfortunate event that you are the victim of a workplace injury, it is important to report this information to your employer and take note of what, how, when, and where the incident occurred. The experienced Los Angeles work injury lawyers at Grey Law recommend that you seek legal advice in order to seek justice and file a workers’ compensation claim. However, by fostering a collective effort to report near-miss accidents, the occurrence of future injuries will likely be reduced. Together, we can work to create a safer and more secure working environment.