Learning from every near miss (toolbox talk)

Investigating near misses is one of the top preventative safety measures you can implement. It allows you to learn from past mistakes and fix issues before they cause incidents. Teach your workers the value of this process by covering the points in this near miss toolbox talk.

Free template!

Download this free near miss report form to document these incidents as quickly as possible after they happen.

Near miss toolbox talk overview

To stay safe at work, we need to be able to recognize issues and fix them before they cause an incident. In this toolbox, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • What exactly is a near miss?
  • What should you do when you see a near miss?
  • What can we learn from near misses?

Once you understand what a near miss is, it’ll be easier for you to spot them when they happen and report them. That’s the only way we’ll be able to learn from them and move forward as a team.

Near miss definition and examples

A near miss is any incident that does not result in injury or damage but can in the future. Examples of near misses include:

  • Dangerous equipment malfunctions
  • Improper use of equipment
  • Close calls between operators and pedestrians
  • Hazardous material spills

These incidents can be the result of human error, environmental factors, or safety hazards. Since they can come from anywhere within the operation, it’s important to keep your eyes open.

Reporting near misses

When you see a near miss happen, the first thing to do is make sure that the hazard is under control. Once you’re sure no one’s in the line of fire, then you need to immediately report what you witnessed.

Here are the details you should share (if you can):

  • When and where the incident happened
  • What happened
  • Who was involved
  • Who else saw it happen

These details will make it easier for the safety team to start investigating the incident. You’ll never get in trouble for reporting an incident, so it’s very important that you share what you see.

Near miss takeaways

Just because near misses don’t result in injuries or damage doesn’t mean they’re not worth investigating. In fact, they’re a great source of information not just for the safety team but for other departments as well.

And that’s because there’s so much we can learn from near misses, like:

  • Sources of safety hazards
  • Operational inefficiencies
  • Policy and/or procedure inconsistencies
  • Training gaps
  • Continuous improvement opportunities

Near misses help us avoid setbacks by showing us what might happen if we don’t make a change. If everyone on the team keeps an eye out for them, then we’ll be able to improve all areas of performance. That way, everyone’s safer and more productive regardless of which department they work in.