What Really is a “Near Miss” – And What We Should Do About It

A “near miss” is defined as the accident you almost had. It’s those close calls – when for some reason or circumstance, you didn’t get hurt despite possibly breaking a safety rule or two.

How many times have you shrugged off a near miss? Maybe you never even gave it a second thought? Next time, think twice. The difference between a near miss and an injury is often a fraction of a second, or an inch or two in one direction or another. And when it happens again, that difference may not be there.

We never know which “Unsafe Behaviour” will bring us serious injury. A famous safety study noted that for every 330 unsafe behaviours that occur, 300 result in no injuries, 29 produced minor injuries and one produces a major injury or even a fatality. What that means is the more risks you take, the better the chance for a serious accident or worse. But we never know which unsafe behaviour will be the one that causes major injury.

Near misses are warnings. 
If we heed the warning and change our behaviour, we’ll be far more likely to avoid any and all injuries in the future.

Here’s an Example:

You never wear your seatbelt when driving your vehicle – you never have. You’ve had to stop short a number of times when driving, and you’ve even hit your head slightly on the windshield several times because you stopped quickly for one reason or another. But you still didn’t consider those near misses as warnings, and you still don’t wear your seatbelt. Making matters worse, you think you’re such a good driver that you can drive faster than most. Well, that “fender bender” that you’re likely to have sometime in the future may only result in minimum properly damage to your vehicle. But you won’t have your seatbelt on, and the result for you will be far worse.

Use the “What If” strategy, the next time you have a near miss.
Again, near misses are warnings. The next time you have a near miss to an accident, ask yourself “what if?” What if I slammed into that car without wearing my seatbelt, or what if that dropped brick hit me when I didn’t have my hardhat on, or what if I didn’t pull my hand out of that machine just in time.

You get the message. Near misses are warnings. Heed those warnings and change your behaviour to work safer in the future