The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define a near miss as an event that does not cause harm but that has the potential to cause injury or ill health. It is also be termed a ‘dangerous occurrence’ in the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
A near miss is characterised by the fact that it is only because of a fortunate break in the chain of events that an injury, fatality or damage has been avoided.
Examples of near misses include:
- A worker tripping over something left on a scaffolding rig but avoiding a fall from height by grabbing hold of a railing.
- A large piece of construction plant being reversed on site without being aware of a worker operating behind.
- Something being dropped from height and nearly hitting workers below.
- Narrow avoidance of injury caused by damaged equipment and property, such as: fractured hand tools, power tools that are not properly earthed, ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE), plant with inadequate lights, loose handrails, loose floor plates, dilapidated structures and so on.
A high proportion of accidents are preceded by one or more near misses. A faulty process or management system is invariably the root cause that leads to the near miss and this should then be the focus of strategies for improvement. By examining near misses when they occur, patterns can be revealed which enable changes to be made.
It is important therefore that workers report all near misses, as, by recognising them and taking corrective action, the number of near misses, as well as actual accidents, can be reduced.
The occurrence of a near miss can encourage site foremen or health and safety officers to conduct a review of safety practices and adopt a strategy to prevent reoccurrence. By discussing near misses and hazards, workers’ awareness is raised and they may be able to identify other potential hazards that should be addressed.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) require a responsible person (employers, the self-employed and individuals in control of work premises) to notify and keep records of specified workplace incidents. This includes certain workplace accidents, occupational diseases and certain ‘dangerous occurrences’ (including near miss accidents).
Examples of near miss strategies include:
- Capturing sufficient data for statistical analysis, correlation studies, trending, and performance measurement.
- Providing a convenient opportunity for ‘worker participation’, through toolbox talks for instance.
- Encouraging an open culture in which everyone shares and contributes in a responsible manner to their own safety and that of their colleagues.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Accident book.
- Construction dust.
- Construction health risks.
- Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).
- Crane regulations.
- Emergency plan.
- Environmental health.
- First aider.
- Health and safety.
- Health and safety consultant.
- Health and Safety Executive.
- Hi-vis clothing.
- Injuries on construction sites.
- Personal protective equipment.
- Risk assessment.
- Safety management.
- Work at height regulations.
 External resources
Featured articles and news
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency..
1961 saw the publication of three important books about urban design that remain relevant today.
Next week the planning fee increases by 20% and new fees are introduced.
How the transformative power of BIM and other digital technologies can be used to gain a competitive edge.
Relevant events and relevant matters are terms used in some contracts, but knowing the differences is important.
Government release statistics showing how many people are now on the property ladder due to Help to Buy schemes.