In the marine world, a "near miss" or "close call" is an incident that occurs without inflicting injury or damage. It's easy for us to shrug off and forget these events since "Hey! No one got hurt!" But there is a danger in brushing off such situations. When a "close call" happens, it should immediately send up a red warning flag that something was wrong, unplanned, or unexpected, and could happen again. The next time it occurs in a yard, facility, or even at a port, it could result in severe damage, injury, or worse, death.
For every incident, there are usually several causal factors, most of which can be controlled. The best way to prevent an incident's reoccurrence is by examining these "close calls" or "near misses." By investigating the root causes of these incidents, steps can be taken to eliminate the hazard and improve the worksite.
Sometimes there are multiple causes for an incident. These can involve:
Don't rush to judgment. Examine the facts and find what's missing. Look for immediate and underlying causes like a mechanical failure or an unsafe act by an employee. The underlying cause could be poor machine maintenance, a missing guardrail, a crowded work area, or a lack of training.
All incidents should be reported to your supervisor so they can complete the proper incident/injury report forms. Once an investigation is completed, solutions should be sought to prevent the incident from occurring again. Solutions may involve engineering controls, administrative controls, additional training, or increased communication between management and workers.
Every day we should inspect our work area for unsafe conditions or be on alert for employees' risky actions and, if found, report them to the supervisor. Hazard awareness is key to preventing incidents before they happen. Please take steps to eliminate hazards as soon as they are discovered.
Learn the real lesson from close calls. They can happen again and again until they cause injury, so tell your supervisor about every accident, no matter how minor it may seem at the time. You never know when an incident may happen again, resulting in an injury or even death.
Be anchored to safety and Never Dismiss a Near Miss!