Near Misses – High Potential, Low Frequency
“Serious Potential Outcomes”
For many years, companies have recognised the importance of identifying near misses in the quest to reduce serious injuries and fatalities. In many organisations the capture and examination of near miss data has become a critical element of this quest.
The theory tells us that all injuries have the same potential to produce serious outcomes; that injuries of differing severity have the same underlying causes and that one injury reduction strategy, applied to all events, will prevent the more serious outcomes from occurring. This is the theory behind the traditional “safety triangle”.
However in recent times, although many organisations have managed to reduce injury rates as a result of effective prevention strategies, the rate of serious injuries has remained constant. This has led to further research that has identified that serious and fatal injuries have different causes than less serious injuries, and that different pre-cursors and activities lead to these events. This supports the conclusion that in reality, not all incidents are equal.
If we can identify the subset of events that are most associated with serious outcomes and the pre-cursors that lead to those outcomes, this may help to drive preventative strategies that reduce serious injuries. There are several safety research models that underpin this thinking recognising that incidents associated with “energy” tend to have more serious consequences.
Recognising the type of work that is being undertaken where energy is involved and relating this to the type of work situation where near misses and incidents take place, will add further validity to this theory. As more and more organisations recognise the importance of extending the traditional safety triangle to accommodate this new thinking, the prospect of reducing serious outcomes is something that we are all working towards.
As our industry matures and the information we collect becomes easier to manipulate and understand, we will develop an even greater insight into serious outcomes and their causes. This will allow us to continue to develop ever more effective injury reduction strategies.
- Glenn Hardy, Strategic Accounts Manager