We all know the feeling. You’re completing a task either at work or at home and something dangerous and unexpected happens. You’re able to react and stop in time, but you’re left with a feeling in the pit of your stomach—worry that it was such a close call and relief that it wasn’t worse. This guy reaction is a classic symptom of a near miss.
What is a near miss?
A near miss is a situation that could have resulted in damage, injury or death but thankfully it didn’t. Usually, a lucky break in the chain of events leading to the near miss prevented an incident from actually occurring. But these close calls are more than just reminders that safety isn’t something we can take for granted. They are valuable opportunities to examine exactly what happened and take corrective action to prevent similar—or more serious—incidents from happening in the future.
Tracking near misses
While it may be tempting to write these off as “no harm, no foul” situations, near misses can help predict and prevent future incidents and injuries—but they are only effective if they are shared and tracked. Our own Jimmy Easterlin has made tracking near misses one of his top priorities. Each time a near miss is shared—through the anonymous Near Miss Form, with a foreman or manager, or by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org—Jimmy and the Safety Team send a quick email to notify everyone with the basic details to raise awareness as quickly as possible. The team then investigates the near miss to understand what happened, how and why it happened and how this situation can be prevented in the future. The results from this investigation are shared by Jimmy through his Lessons Learned email, which highlights recent near misses and helps our teams understand the ins and outs of those would be incidents.
The most important step in the near miss process is sharing these close calls. You are our eyes and ears in the field and in the office, and we want to know what you’re seeing and hearing. Our top priority is understanding why and how near misses happen and preventing them from becoming and injury. There is no “blame game;” just the desire to send all our people home safely and healthy every day.
As we move thorugh the busy and hot summer months, commit yourself to sharing any near misses you see so the lessons you learn can help protect crews across all our jobsites. Thank you for your continued commitment to moving safety forward!
Jimmy Easterlin’s Top 3 Tips
- Submit near misses as soon as possible. The sooner you share the near miss, the sooner it can be shared with others.
- Include pictures of near misses. Pictures help our safety team see exactly what you’re seeing and correct the problem more quickly.
- Share other near misses with your crew. Share emails from the Safety team with your crew to put safety top-of-mind.
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