Documenting and reporting near misses in the workplace

What is a near-miss?

Every day in our work environments there is the potential for accidents to happen. What is the safety culture in your company when it comes to reporting a near-miss incident?

A near miss “near hit”, “close call, or nearly a collision” is an unplanned event that has the potential to cause but does not result in a human injury, environmental or equipment damage, or an interruption to normal operation.

Our job in the safety field is to recognize, report and track incidents so we can create the safest possible working environment.

Proactively identify risk

Can we predict when and where an accident will occur? Studies suggest that for every 300 near misses there will be 29 minor injuries and 1 major injury. There are steps we can take to avoid near misses and accidents.

The first step is to develop a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) to identify and evaluate possible ways employees can be injured while performing a specific job task. Identifying possible hazards before performing the task can help eliminate or bring focus on the proper procedures when performing the job.

The second step is having employees identify and evaluate any unsafe conditions in their work locations. Set an example to make safety a focus at the beginning of each workday. Having open discussions with your employees can help them to feel comfortable reporting incidents that they have witnessed or experienced.

The third step is to investigate and record all near misses and accidents. Training is a key factor in helping your employees recognize the root cause of the incident. Keeping records on all incidents and accidents will help your safety team in analyzing tendencies involving outdated policies, and work procedures, defective equipment, and unsafe practices.

Best practices for reporting near-misses

Within every company, it is important to know how a near-miss incident is defined. Does your company have a hazard reporting program? Any employee that knows of any potentially unsafe workplace situation must be provided with the correct way to report it.

Reporting an incident helps management plan ways to correct the situation so the potential for injury can be eliminated or a change in performing a specific job task can be made safer with new procedures in place. If a near miss is just ignored, then the potential for a serious accident is increased for the future.

Importance of documenting incidents and near-misses

Documenting all incidents can allow your workplace to track patterns and realize trends. Correcting any unsafe practices should be the goal of the safety team. Completing incident reports can help a company protect itself from undue lawsuits.

With no documentation, there is nothing a company can do to defend what occurred. Documentation is one of the most important tasks a company can do.

Documenting every incident, accident, or situation on the job can help everyone in the company from management who creates workplace policy, to the safety team who advise both management and create and instruct safety training for all employees.

Without documentation and investigating each incident you are increasing the risk of a serious accident every day.


The health and safety of all employees should be the number one focus for a company. Injuries and accidents affect the bottom line and could potentially decrease a company’s profit capabilities.

If an OSHA recordable incident occurs the company could face stiff penalties and their safety ratings could be lowered causing customers to give jobs to other companies that can offer a better safety rating.

Near-misses must be reported, investigated, and documented to ensure proper policies and procedures are being performed