Construction site accidents occur because of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts in the workplace. Some of these accidents result in an injury and in some cases, a fatality. At other times, there are what we call near-miss incidents where a worker is fortunate enough to escape what could potentially be serious injury or death.
As experienced OSHA attorneys, we advise construction companies to view near misses as an opportunity to improve safety conditions at their workplaces. This section and part two will help construction companies change their perspective on near-miss incidents.
What is a Near Miss?
Workplace accidents are unplanned events that result in an injury or property damage. An incident, on the other hand, is unplanned as well but it does not result in an injury but could result in property damage. A near miss is an event that doesn’t result in an injury or damage and can be minor or major. Most construction accidents are preceded by a near-miss incident. Examples of near misses include:
- Tripping over cables but managing to avoid the fall by grabbing hold of a nearby object
- Jumping out of the way just as a crane collapses
- A nail is discharged unintentionally but nearly hits a nearby worker
Addressing Near Miss Accidents
No one likes to admit that they did something wrong, but when it comes to safety on construction jobsites, acknowledging mistakes can be a matter of life or death. Dealing with near misses properly can help your company maintain a clean safety record. Access your company’s overall attitude about safety. How do you handle near misses currently? Do you feel momentary relief than go back to work as usual? Do you have a plan in place to prevent these incidents from happening again?
Investigating Near Misses
Recording and investigating the near miss should be treated just as seriously as an actual accident. Investigating a near miss helps you uncover the facts to help you to identify the root cause of why an incident transpired and preventing it from occurring again. It is valuable for identifying deficiencies in your safety program and highlighting policies, practices, and equipment that may need to be changed to minimize future risks. Focus on flaws in your company’s processes and systems, rather than the flaws of your employees.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.