We have all probably had them at one time or another: a “near miss”, “close call”, or “near collision”! Whatever term we use, it is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage, but had the potential to do so. Economical, political and regulatory arenas have created the need for Environmental Health and Safety Management, focusing on measures to protect our environment, communities and employees.
A Safety Pyramid, developed by Frank E. Bird, Jr. is now accepted by most EH&S pros. On the bottom tier of the safety pyramid are near misses, a layer above that are minimal accidents and on the top tier are major accidents.
Companies define near misses in a variety of ways, some more serious than others. It is important that a person who is involved in a close call report it to someone in authority in order for the incident to be studied and identified as a for sure near miss. Reporting this should be a simple procedure, and then the statement should be distributed to proper management leaders. Persons reporting the incident should be given the opportunity to help determine the cause and how to prevent future accidents. Once a solution is reached, it should be followed up on to be sure the corrections were properly done. The person(s) reporting the incident they were involved in or witnessed should be given the results of the study.
A few of the many industries and organizations that employ preventative measures to avoid serious accidents are listed below:
- Fire Rescue Services – National Fire Fighters Near Miss Response System accepts anonymous information that is not forwarded to any regulatory program.
- Aviation – Accepts confidential, voluntary reports from flight attendants, pilots, air traffic controllers. This Aviation Safety Reporting System began in 1976.
- Healthcare – AORN, (Safety Net) Registered Nurses Near Miss Registry receives risk-free anonymous reporting tools in Internal Medicine, which serve as a barrier to avoid errors from reaching patients.
The best way to avoid serious injuries or accidents is to realize that these near misses or close calls give us a second chance. Sometimes, in life there are no replay buttons!