Reporting Near Misses

near miss

What is a near miss?

A Near Miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage; in other words, a miss that was nonetheless very near.

Though near misses are technically not an OSHA recordable incident, OSHA recommends reporting and investigating near misses as best practices. However, near misses are often quickly dismissed and left unreported since there was not any property damage or injuries that occurred.

Why are employees reluctant to report a near miss?

  • They may be afraid to be punished or scrutinized for the incident.
  • They do not realize that a near miss occurred.
  • Employees do not have clear instructions on how to report this issue.
  • They underestimate the value that reporting a near miss has in their safety.
  • Employees become compliant and comfortable with not reporting these incidents.
  • Employees can be afraid to put blame on a specific coworker and choose not to get involved.

What is the best way to report a near miss?

  • Create a clear definition of a near miss.
  • Make a written disclosure and report the identified near miss.
  • Prioritize reports and classify information for future actions.
  • Distribute information to the people involved in the near miss.
  • Analyze the causes of the problem.
  • Identify solutions to the problem.
  • Disseminate the solutions to the people impacted.
  • Resolve all actions and check any changes.


How can my company prevent a near miss?

  • Train employees to detect a near miss when it occurs. If an employee is not used to taking note of these incidents, he or she is likely to disregard a near miss. Provide specific examples that commonly occur in the workplace and relates to their position. Try implementing hands-on activities for your employees to stay engaged while giving continual feedback. 
  • Continuously encourage employees to report a near miss and avoid punishing any employees for this incident. As we mentioned above, employees are reluctant on reporting these issues because they are afraid to be punished. Reinforce the idea that they will not be penalized for this incident and that it is better to identify the issue, find a solution, and protect one another. 
  • Provide clear instructions on how to report a near miss. When an accident occurs, your employees need to be properly trained on the correct documentation process and be ready to implement your reporting system. If you simply tell your employees to report something and do not provide them with a clear step-by-step system, they are likely to disregard the incident in fear they are not documenting an issue correctly. 
  • Be cautious of the length of your near miss reporting system. Most employees are pressed for time to meet deadlines and complete their work. If your reporting system is time consuming, confusing, or more difficult than it needs to be, chances are employees won’t take the time out of their schedule to complete the report.

Why is it important to implement a near miss reporting system?

Although near misses cause no immediate harm, they can lead to events in which a loss or injury could occur. Documenting these near misses gives you the opportunity to evaluate what went wrong and how it can be prevented from causing damage in the future. History has shown repeatedly that most loss producing incidents, both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near miss incidents. 

Example: PIKA, a company with about 130 employees, has been running its current near-miss program for nearly two years. After the first full year of the program, the company’s OSHA recordable number fell from 4 to 1, tying an all-time low for the company. The total incident rate dropped from 3.62 to 0.817 – in just one year.

Reporting a near miss allows for better transparency throughout your company and helps keep your employees safe along the way. If you are looking to implement a near miss reporting system, contact Jim DePew below to get started.


Jim DePew
Vice President & Consultant
Mobile: (330) 631-9022
Office: (330) 915-2355 Ext: 103
Email: [email protected]