14 Near Miss Toolbox Talks + How Do You Encourage Workers to Report a Near Miss

Reporting a near miss will help managers and employees to avoid injuries, illness, or even fatalities. So, making near misses your next toolbox talk topic could be a great way to prevent workplace hazards from turning into incidents. 

Pair this with appropriate training and you’re golden! Getting your team together regularly for a safety presentation can lead to a 64% reduction in Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and a 66% cut to your days away, restricted or transferred (DART), according to research from the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC). 

There are a ton of ways to feature near misses in your daily toolbox talks. You can discuss causes, remedies, prevention, reporting, and more. 

In this article, we bring you a host of great near miss talks to present to your team. But we know it doesn’t end with toolbox talks, so we’ve also added some general tips on how to improve hazard reporting in your business.

What is a Near Miss According to OSHA? 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a near miss as incidents “in which a worker might have been hurt if the circumstances had been slightly different.” Within this definition of a near miss, the administration highlights two different kinds. 

Type of Near MissDefinition
Unsafe Condition-near missThis speaks about the state of the equipment, the environment, or other circumstances around the incident that could cause an accident. 
Unsafe Act-near missHuman error and behavior by one or more persons, that could lead to an incident. Examples of this include ignorance or disregard of the rules, taking shortcuts, horseplay, or any other unsafe action.

Why Is it Necessary to Report Near Misses?

Although a near miss is not an OSHA recordable and the administration doesn’t require you to report it, it does recommend keeping track of near misses. When you record and investigate a near miss, you can learn from it, and avoid possible injury, incidents, and accidents. The official incident investigation advice is: 

“OSHA strongly encourages employers to investigate all incidents in which a worker was hurt, as well as close calls (sometimes called “near misses”)” 

For you to record near misses, you need the workers to report them. Unfortunately, many employees fear that they’ll be punished when they report a close call. Sometimes workers think they’ll be blamed for a close call that wasn’t their fault or they’ll face consequences for a simple mistake. Another reason why coworkers aren’t motivated to report near misses is that they don’t see how they’ll benefit from it. This is where a strong safety culture and safety incentive programs can help you. 

The fact is that the same things that cause near misses, also cause accidents. Here’s one relevant example. 

Example
If workers don’t follow the safety policy for carrying tools at a height, it can cause a major injury, fatality, or only a near miss. If the person is lucky once, that doesn’t mean this person will be lucky the next time. Reporting a near miss to the designated person allows them to take action and put preventive measures in place. 

That’s why everyone should be able to report a near miss without fear. To achieve this, the workplace culture from the management team down to the shop floor workers should encourage open communication.  A positive culture will improve workplace safety, uplift site morale, reduce your TRIR, and afford you better insurance premiums. 

Near Miss Toolbox Talks 

Take a look at the following examples of near miss toolbox talks:

The importance of reporting electric shocks before someone suffers electrocution. 

What can happen if you do not report a near miss in the workplace.

Asking yourself ‘why did that happen’ and then reporting it before it happens again. 

The process you should go through when flagging a near miss. 

Could multiple near misses lead to serious accidents? 

A ratio between near misses number at the bottom of the triangle, and the incidents, serious incidents, and fatalities at the top.

It’s thought that there’s one lost-time injury, for every 750 near misses in the transportation industry. 

With heavy objects, electrical hazards, large machinery, and everything else on a construction site, it’s vital to be vigilant about near misses.

Not only do you need to take note of the incident, but also the potential root causes, as displayed in these examples. 

There are numerous hazards in a medical environment of which you need to be aware of, to avoid injuries and incidents. 

Using near misses as a learning indicator in the workplace. 

How to encourage workers to talk to each other every day about near misses, safety issues, and concerns. 

Recognizing unsafe conditions, poor quality work, and other hazards in your work location. 

Advice from the Institute of Scrap and Recycling Institutes about near misses. How to deal with trash, exposure to chemical hazards, and other potential issues in the waste and recycling world.

How to Report a Near Miss 

  1. Adopt. The first step is adding a near miss reporting system to your company handbook. This will encourage employees to report near misses and it will show that management is serious about preventing incidents. It also proves that the company culture welcomes input rather than punishing workers who admit that they’ve made a mistake. 
  2. Protect. If you allow employees to remain anonymous when they report a near miss they’ll feel safe and willing to report. You could even offer incentives to encourage workers to report any near misses.
  3. Report. Because there is no OSHA requirement to report a near miss, you can create your own near miss reporting form. The form should contain the date, time, and location of the near miss. You need enough space to record the nature of the incident and details of what happened. Add a heading where you’ll record the potential outcome if it were an accident. You can also provide employees with the chance to add photographs or videos and to make suggestions for the best remedy. 
  4. Systematize. Your near miss reporting systems should have clear steps. These steps will include initial reporting, informing the line manager, fixing the problem, and making sure there won’t be a similarly dangerous situation.

How To Investigate And Discuss A Near Miss

Step 1: Identify the problem

Identifying the problem and finding the solution is only the start of a near miss investigation. You need to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. In our example of a worker dropping tools from a height, your first step is to provide a safer way of carrying tools. 

But you also need to look at why a worker was happy to carry tools in an unsafe manner in the first place. Did they not realize the potential severity? Was the worker rushed by a superior and not allowed to take any safety precautions? Understanding their interpretation of the facts and the chain of events allows you to better take preventive action as part of a full investigation. 

Step 2: Find the root cause

The root cause could simply be that the worker did not consider it a risk. That suggests that your safety training is lacking in at least one area. From there, you might even delve deeper and conduct a full review of your training and safety procedures. This will allow you to see what else you are missing in order to prevent an accident. 

In order to properly investigate and resolve near misses, you have to look at the symptoms: the flying object. But you also need to find the cause: inadequate safety training or faulty processes. You then have to fix the symptoms by instigating a safe tool-carrying policy, in this case. While you’ll address the cause by rethinking the training scheme and resources. 

Step 3: Discuss

When discussing near misses in your toolbox talks, the key is not to blame the individuals but to work together to find solutions. A near miss or related incident reports should not be seen as an admission of guilt. Through open, non-judgmental conversation, you nurture trust and cooperation, as well as a collective responsibility for safety practices in the workplace. This is the best way to prevent harmful future accidents. 

Speaking of non-judgmental conversations, you may want to have a look at the Just Culture Algorithm™.

Conclusion

Near miss toolbox talks are vital tools for creating a safe workplace. It is extremely important for employees to actively seek out potential faults and report them to prevent future injuries. Developing a strong safety culture and providing a reporting system will benefit all employees in the long run. Rewarding those who do their bit for the greater good, or at least allowing anonymous input, is an ideal way of encouraging workers to report safety concerns. For a safer environment, make sure you try some of these toolbox talks in your safety moment of the day. Don’t leave safety in your working zone down to luck.

References and Further Reading