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Near miss reporting

What is a near miss?

A near miss is defined as an event that, while not causing harm, has the potential to cause injury or ill health. Whilst near misses are usually individual events, they can also occur at the same time as accidents.  An accident should also be reported as a near miss if more people could have been injured, or injured in a different way, than the main injury occurring during an accident. Reporting both accidents and near misses are important in tackling hazardous situations that may occur when working.

Near misses should be reported and investigated as this will highlight any possible failings or gaps in current health and safety measures.  This could prevent future incidents or accidents. Including near miss reporting in your health and safety practice promotes a proactive approach to safety.  This could also in turn save money in the long run.

It can be difficult to get staff to report near-misses or minor slip accidents.  They are often seen as funny or embarrassing occurrences (until someone is hurt). It is important to create a culture which encourages reporting of these accidents.

What should you investigate?
  • When did the near miss happen?
  • What was the employee doing when the near miss happened?
  • What equipment and working areas were involved?
  • Was the person authorised to be carrying out this task/activity?
  • What caused the near miss?

Investigating near misses will allow a business to identify and implement control measures.  This will aid reducing future near misses and possible accidents. As part of the investigation, you will be able to identify immediate causes, underlying causes and root causes.  This will lead to remedial actions that may prevent this type of near miss or possible accident occurring in the future.

Legal requirements

There are legal duties for reporting and investigating both accidents and near misses. Investigations fall under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 5.  This requires employers to plan, organise, control, monitor and review their health and safety arrangements. Investigations also ensure that an organisation is complying with the Health & Safety At Work etc Act 1974.

When to report a near miss

Near misses should be reported as soon as possible and can be reported anonymously. Investigations should also be conducted as soon as possible.  This will be subject to the magnitude of the near risk, the immediacy of any risks involved and the potential of further near misses or accidents.  People’s memories of the event will be clearer if the investigation happens straight after the event.  Motivation to enact any changes following the investigation will also be at their highest.

A good investigation will involve information gathering and anaylsing of this information which will help with identifying all causes (immediate, underlying, root). This will then lead to an action plan for implementation of control measures.  These measures need to be reasonably practicable and with realistic timescales applied to implementing them.

Providing they have the authority to do so, both near miss reporting and near miss investigation can be organised and undertaken by anyone.

Further information

For further information, consult HSG245 ‘Investigating accidents and incidents: A workbook for employers, unions, safety representatives and safety professionals’ https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg245.htm

Annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has  released figures for 2019/20. 

The full annual workplace fatality figures can be found here.

Lowest year on record

The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 111 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2019 and March 2020.  This is a rate of 0.34 deaths per 100,000 workers and, most importantly, the lowest year on record.   This represents a fall of 38 deaths from the previous year. Coronavirus impact is likely to have accentuated this fall on the economy in the final two months of the year.

In line with previous years’ fatal injury statistics, these figures do not include deaths from occupational disease. Covid-19 infection is therefore not part of these figures and will not feature in fatal injury statistics in subsequent years.

There has been a long-term reduction in the number of annual fatalities.  The number has almost halved in the last 20 years. Aside from the current fall, the number has remained broadly level in recent years.

Spread across industrial sectors

The new figures show the spread of fatal injuries across industrial sectors:

  • 40 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded, accounting for the largest share. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated. The annual average for the past five years is 37. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around 4 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 20 fatal injuries to agricultural, forestry and fishing workers were recorded, the lowest level on record. Despite this fall, this sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 5 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be; workers falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (20) and being struck by a moving object (18).  These account for 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2019/20.

The new figures continue to highlight the risks to older workers.  27 per cent of fatal injuries in 2019/20 were to workers aged 60 or over.  Even though such workers make up only around 10 per cent of the workforce.

Members of the public killed

In addition, members of the public continue to be killed in connection with work-connected accidents.  In 2019/20 51 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-connected accident in HSE enforced workplaces. 33 of these occurred in the Health and Social work sector.  A further 41 occurred on railways (enforced by the Office for Road and Rail).

Mesothelioma deaths

Mesothelioma, which is contracted through past exposure to asbestos and is one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, killed 2446 in Great Britain in 2018. This is slightly lower than the average 2550 over the previous five years.

The current figures are largely a consequence of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before 1980. Consequently the annual mesothelioma deaths are expected to fall below current levels for years beyond 2020.

 

 

 

 

RIDDOR

From 1st October 2013 the requirements to report accidents to the HSE under RIDDOR have changed. The main changes will be to simplify the reporting requirements in the following areas:

  • The classification of ‘major injuries’ to workers replaced with a shorter list of ‘specified injuries’
  • The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease to be replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness
  • Fewer types of ‘dangerous occurrence’ will require reporting Read more