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A serious accident or incident can happen at any time and the natural response by many employers is to assess their workplace risks and the controls that are in place. This can help them determine what went wrong and what they can do to reduce the risk of it happening again.

However, the truth is that many work-related accidents and incidents can be avoided through the use of a near-miss System. Along with this, near-misses can occur as a result of an employee being under the influence of drugs or alcohol and so, drug and alcohol testing can also form an important aspect of the system.

The HSE classes a near-miss as an incident that didn’t lead to harm although it could have potentially caused injury or ill health. An example of this would a workplace that does not have the correct methods in place to reduce the risks of slips or trips. Therefore, an employee could almost fall on a slippery floor but if they manage to regain their balance, then the incident would be classed as a near-miss.

It is all too easy to ignore near-misses on-site. However, you should take near-misses seriously as they are a warning sign that something is not right. The research suggests that for every serious accident in the workplace, there are 90 near-misses. So, through developing a policy and procedure for reporting near-misses, it will encourage employees to play a part in ensuring that the workplace is safe. You will then have the relevant documentation to use in order to analyse workplace risks, ultimately preventing accidents from happening.

How do you implement a near-miss reporting system?

To begin with, the correct documentation is required. Therefore, when a near-miss occurs, employees can complete the relevant documentation that details the location, the date and the time it happened. It should also include the type of incident as well as the names of all of those involved including witnesses.

Routine training is also required so employees are aware of the reporting process. They will need to be informed so that they understand how to complete a report, where they need to store them and who the needs to be contacted after an incident has occurred.

In fact, aside from internal reports, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 require employers to ensure that they submit reports of near-misses to the HSE.

Near-misses are often an indication that something needs changing. Health and safety in the workplace is vital and that is why near-misses have to be taken seriously.