EHS Insider Blog

What is A Near Miss?


What is a Near Miss?

OSHA defines a near miss as an incident where no property was damaged and no personal injury was sustained, but where given a slight shift in time or position damage and/or injury easily could have occurred. Merriam-Webster's definition is "an accident that is just barely avoided." 

Near miss incidents occur every day in the workplace and can be anything from a simple stumble over an electrical cord to a hand narrowly escaping amputation. 

The Near Miss Pyramid Theory

H.W. Heinrich, an engineer who lectured in safety at the New York University for over 20 years, published "Industrial Accident Prevention: A Scientific Approach." Mr. Heinrich discussed a Pyramid Theory, where after researching and compiling safety data from several companies, he proposed that for every 1 major injury, there are 29 minor injuries and 300 near misses. Heinrich also discussed the importance of accident prevention and how workplace accidents diminish a company's reputation, increase insurance premiums, reduce moral and are financially draining. 



Near Miss Reporting System

As Heinrich illustrates, most accidents are preceded by warning signs like a near miss. As such, empowering employees to recognize and report near miss incidents can provide proactive opportunities to improve worker safety. By monitoring and reporting near misses, you have the opportunity to correct issues with - personnel, equipment and procedures to prevent the negative consequences of an accident. 

Benefits include:

  • Provides an opportunity to develop improved safety measures around a known issue.
  • Pro-actively reduces the risk of hazards that can cause injury or damage to personnel, equipment or the environment.
  • Becomes a leading indicator for safety performance.
  • Promotes workplace safety by engaging all levels of personnel in problem solving.
  • Increases safety accountability and ownership.
  • Uncovers valuable information that might otherwise go undiscovered.

Key Takeaway

It is important to understand the relationship between near misses and injuries. Understanding the root cause of near misses will provide data that can be used to help prevent injuries and fatalities. 


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Topics: Near Misses Safety Training