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Implementing a Near-Miss Reporting System

Have you ever experienced a “near-miss” at work – narrowly avoiding an accident that could have been dangerous, even deadly?

Reporting near accidents can help prevent the same incident from happening to a co-worker in the future, according to a 2015 case study developed by OSHA and the National Safety Council.

Near-misses offer a valuable source of information. They help to identify hazards or weaknesses in a company’s risk management program, that might otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late and a serious injury does occur. An often-overlooked policy, reporting near-misses can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture.

Best practices

Not sure where to start when developing a near-miss reporting system? A few best practices to consider include:

  • Leadership buy-in is critical. Those at the top need to establish a reporting culture that reinforces the importance of identifying and controlling hazards at every opportunity.
  • Employees should not be punished for reporting a near miss. Consider allowing anonymity for workers reporting an incident.
  • Always investigate a near-miss incident to determine how and why it happened, as well as how to prevent it from occurring again.
  • Use the results of a near-miss investigation as an opportunity to improve your organization’s safety system.
  • Recognize that reporting near misses is crucial to preventing serious injuries and deaths.

Employee participation

A near-miss reporting system will not work without employee participation. To encourage involvement, OSHA and NSC recommend the following:

  • Educate workers on why near-miss reporting is important. Be sure they know how to navigate the reporting process.
  • Keep it simple. The reporting system should be easy to use and understand.
  • Train new employees on the use of the reporting system.
  • Do not let your near-miss reporting system fall by the wayside – actively communicate its importance to all employees.
  • Regularly reiterate that your reporting system is non-punitive.
  • If initiating an incentives program, be sure to avoid incentives that discourage reporting. A good incentives program will actively recognize the reporting of hazards.
  • Celebrate your program’s successes.



National Security Council: