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Winston Churchill once said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”

The National Safety Council reports that about 75% of workplace accidents are forecast by near hit incidents. And since near hit incidents occur with more frequency than actual accidents that result in an injury, reporting near hits can serve as an early warning system.

Nonsubscribers can adopt an early warning system to help forecast potential injuries by requiring employees to report all “near hit” incidents. Near hits are unexpected events that nearly result in a workplace injury. For example, safety equipment that doesn’t perform as expected, objects stacked improperly that fall and nearly hit an employee or a slip and fall that does not result in an injury.

Before initiating a near miss program, it is important to ensure employees have a clear understanding as to why reporting these events is so important and the benefits that can be derived from such a program. Employees must also understand the company’s definition of a reportable near hit event and when and how such events should be reported. For example, certain near hit incidents (i.e. incidents that involve certain types of equipment, chemicals, etc.) may require reporting while others may be reported at the employee’s discretion. Employees should also not suffer any punishment as a result of reporting a near hit incident.

Some programs may not define incidents specifically but rather state in more general terms the types of near hit incidents to be reported. For example, near hits that could have resulted in a significant injury. Regardless of what triggers a reportable action it is important to focus on the programs intent: injury prevention.

When developing a near hit incident reporting form, you might include:

* Name of the person reporting the near hit incident
* Description of the incident
* Date of occurrence
* Location
* Details
* What prevented this incident from becoming an accident

After the report is filed it is imperative that the employer act on the information provided. This typically involves:

* Secure the scene immediately
* A careful investigation of the incident
* Develop a plan for corrective action
* Evaluate the effectiveness of the corrective action

More information on workplace injury prevention programs is available in the
TXANS Knowledge Center.

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