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Near Miss reporting

Who, what, where, when…

‘…an unplanned event that did not result in injury or damage, but had the potential to do so’

Arboricultural work can be a very dangerous operation.

Between the 1st of April 2000 and the 31st of March 2013 a total of 60 people were killed as a result of tree work activities (source HSE).

Near misses (with appropriate actions where necessary) is well known to be an important element of accident and incident prevention.

Near miss reporting can help to:

  1. Identify hazards and trends
  2. Increase the likelihood of interventions before accidents and incidents happen
  3. Engage employees in the safe working culture
  4. Highlight training needs

Here at Beechwood Trees and Landscapes Ltd, we noticed in October 2018 that our near miss reporting, in relation to the number of incidents we were experiencing, was not where we wanted it to be.

We quickly recognised that some of the teams were using the system in place and some weren’t and at first we believed that this may be simply down to an increase in staffing levels.

The teams were consulted and it wasn’t as we expected simply a training issue. Teams reported that filling in ‘yet another form’ or remembering to when they had come out the tree or finished the job in hand, wasn’t conducive to helping them report the information we wanted. The reporting mechanism had to be looked at.

Like most tree companies, we have historically relied on paper based systems for reporting near misses. This has included either filling in team leader sheets or even filling in purpose made ‘flyers’ and handing them in at the end of the day.

We realised that we were already using a closed social media ‘group’ as a management team to communicate with all Managers and thought this would be a good way of communicating with ALL staff on site at the same time.

By using a simple social media application we could greatly improve the speed, ease and the effectiveness of our near miss reporting and at the same time it helped in sharing the information across all staff ‘live’  so in November 2018 we trailed a ‘Near Miss Group’ in order to see if it worked.

The results were both positive and immediate.

The beauty of this new method of reporting near misses was that not only did it enable live reporting, it also enabled what we called a ‘fire and forget’ way of dealing with near misses which the operational staff really like.

The staff could now, using a familiar method of communication, their phones, provide a near miss report as soon as it happened, quickly and easily and not have to worry about filling in any forms later. They simply opened their phone, typed the near miss information plus any supporting photos and clicked enter (we already had their location from our systems and the time of the report was recorded in the App).

We then administered the near miss in our NIA (Near miss, Incident and Accident) system as normal and respond accordingly as part of Incident Management Procedure, including issuing some ‘Immediate safety bulletins’ if and when necessary using the group.

Since introducing this new system in November last year we have seen our near miss reporting more than double. The percentage of our reports from staff is now made up of 69% near misses in March 2019.

We now use separate Social Media Groups to communicate as a Management team, to Team Leaders, to report kit and vehicle issues as well as our near miss reports.

For more information please contact:

Jim Pennington
Compliance Manager – Beechwood Trees and Landscapes ltd

Additional safety information can be found on our compliance page