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Accident vs Incident vs Near Miss
It is well known that the importance of safety of workers, property & environment in the workplace is the first & top priority for all organizations. Safety is a major factor for all businesses where safety comes first, with a joint effort between employers and employees to ensure everyone’s safety & well-being.
All work-related accidents, incidents, and near misses are preventable by implementing proper safety measures before the commencement of a job in the workplace.
Accident and Incident Definition
What is an Accident Definition
An accident is an unplanned or unexpected event that results in serious injury or illness to workers and it may also result in damage to property and the environment. An accident always leads to some kind of damage or loss like injury to workers or damage to property and the environment.
All accidents can be avoided by implementing proper safety control measures in the workplace hence, assessment of the workplace for any potential hazards to be done and required controls to be implemented before the start of work to avoid an accident.
Example of Accident
- Serious personnel injury due to being hit by falling objects in the workplace.
- A car crash due to over-speeding or malfunctioning of vehicles and equipment.
- Workers’ ill health due to repetitive exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
- Environmental pollution due to chemical spillage.
What is an Incident in the Workplace
Any unplanned/unexpected worksite negative event that may result in damage to property and environment but doesn’t result in serious personnel injury and illness is an incident.
This may involve any sort of damage to property, environment, or minor injury that threatens the productivity and success of the project. While incidents don’t lead to serious injury but they may make one more likely that’s why, it’s very important to prevent “incidents” the same as it is “accidents.”
Example of Incident
- Damage to property or equipment caused by an unsafe act or condition.
- Spillage of harmful /dangerous chemicals causing environmental pollution.
- Unexpected and harmful environmental impact.
- Disruption in plant operation/work progress.
- Operating plant and equipment without authorization.
- Using prohibited items or tools in the workplace.
What is a Near Miss in The Workplace
A near miss is an unplanned event or situation that could have resulted in injury to workers or property damage but didn’t. Near misses are not accidents but, they could have been accidents if the circumstances had been changed to some kind of injury or loss.
Example of Near Miss
- A spanner falls from a height but does not results in injury or property damage.
- Mishandling of hazardous materials and chemicals.
- Someone slips on the wet floor but does not fall.
- A worker trips over scattered tools & materials on the working floor but does not fall.
- A worker operates the excavator to excavate the ground without checking for the presence of underground utilities etc.
Everyone must know what is a near miss in the workplace and how to report it to avoid unwanted accidents and incidents in the workplace. If you are an employee, report near misses occurring at the workplace to reduce your chance of being injured.
Only reporting near misses is not enough to stop them from happening again. Reporting is the first step to making management or supervisor aware of what happened. The next step will be to look into the problem to investigate why the near miss took place. once the causes of near misses are found, implement effective control measures to stop them from happening again.
1 Key Difference Between Accident and Incident:
In occupational health, safety, and environment “incident” and “accident” both refer to an unplanned, unexpected event that results in some kind of loss. Unlike in general language, An incident carries a negative connotation. When used for worksite events, it’s usually while conversational English often uses the accident to mean anything unexpected, a workplace “accident” always refers to a serious and harmful event in the workplace.
There is no doubt that each organization has its specific definitions and standards for what constitutes an accident vs. an incident. The main difference between an accident & an incident is, An accident includes a serious personnel injury or illness as well as damage to property and environment, while an “incident” consists of damage to property, or environment, and just a minor injury like small cuts and lacerations to employees.
That’s why all incidents are an accident but all accidents are not an incident.
The Main Causes of Accidents, Incidents, and Near Miss in the Workplace:
Below are some reasons that may lead to an accident & incident in the workplace
- Inadequate/poor supervision.
- Untrained/qualified task operatives.
- Poor design of workstation and tools.
- Operating machinery and equipment without proper authorization.
- Malfunctioning of machinery & equipment.
- Tiredness due to repetitive work motion.
- Failure to comply with safety procedures.
- Failure to comply with PPE requirements.
- Not following supervisor’s instructions.
- Poor housekeeping such as trailing cables and tools at the workplace.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Accidents, Incidents, and Near Misses in the Workplace:
All accidents and incidents at the workplace can be prevented by implementing effective control measures; hence we must keep our focus on the implementation of appropriate control to mitigate accidents and incidents at the workplace.
Below are some key preventive measures to avoid accidents & incidents in the workplace.
- Conduct a risk assessment of the workplace to find out existing hazards and risks.
- Obtain a valid permit to work document before the start of work.
- Provide job-specific training to the employees.
- Avoid unauthorized operation of machinery and equipment.
- Implement all necessary control measures from the outcomes of risk assessment.
- Provide job-required PPEs to the workers and ensure their proper use by them.
- Select the tools according to the job nature, the right tools for the right job must be used.
- Inspect tools daily for any signs of damage.
- All activities which have the potential to cause harm to people, property & environment, must be done under close supervision.
- Maintain good housekeeping at the workplace by arranging tools & materials in an orderly manner.
Impacts of Accidents, Incidents, and Near Miss at the Workplace:
Workplace accidents and the incident is a negative sign for both employers and employees. Hence, the prevention of workplace accidents and incidents is the first and top priority for every organization. Whenever accidents and incidents occur in the workplace due to breaching safety policies and procedures, there may be negative impacts on the concerned organization.
Consequences of workplace accidents incident include:
- Reduced productivity and quality.
- Not achieving target goals on time.
- Employees suffered (pain & stress).
- Reduced worker morale.
- Loss of company reputation.
- Legal compensations.
- Loss of customer satisfaction with the company.
- Reduced probability to get a new job.
- Employee turnover
- Increased unnecessary costs to the organization such as medical treatment expenses, worker’s compensation, and increased insurance premiums.
It is important for both employers and employees to recognize the key difference between accidents and incidents so that they can implement effective control measures accordingly to prevent the reoccurrence of accidents and incidents in the workplace.
All accidents, incidents, and near misses must be reported on time to avoid them from happening again in the workplace.
Q. What is an Accident Definition?
Ans. An accident is an unplanned or unexpected event that results in serious injury or illness to workers and it may also result in damage to property and the environment.
Q. What is an Incident in the Workplace?
Ans. Any unplanned/unexpected worksite negative event that may result in damage to property and environment but doesn’t result in serious personnel injury and illness is an incident.
Q. What is a Near Miss in The Workplace?
Ans. A near miss is an unplanned event or situation that could have resulted in injury to workers or property damage but didn’t.
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