HSE professionals are familiar with the meaning and use of the term ‘Near Miss’ but it’s interesting to consider whether further descriptors are required.
in a 2013 article Chuck Pettinger suggests that near-miss events should be further categorised as they appear along a continuum.
A near hit is an incident where an injury or fatality is narrowly avoided
e.g. A worker steps out of the way of a falling drum which has been dislodged from a rack by a forklift truck.
Near hits should be immediately reported and a full investigation to undertaken with implementation of appropriate safety measures to prevent re-occurrence
A near miss is a safety incident that did not result in injury, illness, or death but had potential to do so. A drum falling from a warehouse shelf and nearly hitting a worker below would be classified as a near hit. In a near miss, the drum falls to the ground just the same, but no-one is close to the drum when it falls.
Like Near Hits, Near misses should be addressed quickly.
A good catch describes a situation where someone notices a situation with the potential to cause harm.
A manager notices that a load has not been appropriately secured before a lifting operation.
No-one was injured or even close to being injured in this example but the potential for harm is present. Good catches are also referred to as hazards or safety concerns, They can be forewarnings of future incidents.
The lowest severity safety incident, an error likely instance would happen before any type of incident occurs or sometimes before work has even commenced. For example a manager might notice that subcontractors are scheduled to perform a short job on site involving working at height. Because the job is short, there may be a likelihood that appropriate stabilisation using toe boards may not be performed. The HSE manager may then decide to attend the on-site toolbox talk or job brief to ensure compliance.
Effectively tracking all these events will identify shortcomings in processes and allow future incidents to be prevented.