Accidents, incidents and near misses | Health & Safety


Every year people are killed or injured at work. Over 40 million working days are lost annually through work-related accidents and illnesses.

In this article, our expert Health and Safety Consultant, Adam Williams discusses the differences between accidents, incidents, and near misses, and what procedures employers can put in place to minimise the risk of them occurring in the workplace.

What are accidents, incidents and near misses?

Workplace accidents

A workplace accident is an incident, meaning an unexpected workplace event that resulted in injury or even fatality. Many injuries are non-critical, but many are.

Critical injuries include loss of consciousness, bone fracture, amputation of any kind, loss of sight in at least one eye, severe burns, and substantial loss of blood.

Workplace incidents

The first rule of thumb is to remember that all unexpected workplace events are incidents. However, not all incidents are accidents or near-misses. 

The broad definition of an incident describes it as an event that disrupts regular work activity and operations and potentially causes significant risk for everyone involved. 

All workplace incidents must be reported and followed up on, no matter how big or small their consequences are.

Near misses

Near-misses are a subset of incidents where no one got hurt, but only by a pure stroke of luck. In a near-miss, someone was a hair’s breadth away from getting injured. If you’re having trouble determining whether an event was an incident or a near-miss, all you need to do is consider the following: 

  1. Was this an unexpected or adverse incident?
  2. Did anyone get hurt?
  3. If the conditions were slightly different, say, if someone was standing only a few centimetres to the side could anyone have gotten hurt?

How can we prevent accidents, incidents and near misses in the workplace?

  1. Conduct risk assessments – Regular risk assessments should take place to check for any possible physical, mental, chemical and biological hazards.
  2. Maintain and inspect machinery – Ensure that machinery is regularly inspected and maintained, this will help to protect your staff from injuries caused through malfunctions, and to also keep up with efficiencies.
  3. Provide regular and up to date training – No employee should be left to do their job without the proper training, especially when this involves operating machinery. Provide regular and up to date training so that staff can safely do their jobs. Ensure that your team is carrying out tasks as trained and not taking shortcuts which could lead to an accident or near miss.
  4. Provide appropriate PPE – Provide your staff with the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for them to be able to carry out their job safely.
  5. Keep work spaces clean – Loose wires, piles of documents on the floor, spillages and general clutter can increase the likelihood of accidents such as slips, trips and falls in the workplace.
  6. Display signage – Display appropriate signage in the workplace to warn of any hazards.
  7. Report accidents and near misses – Report all accidents or near misses in the company accident book. This will help you to identify the risk and work out what needs to be done to stop other incidents of the same nature happening in the future.

How can oneSafe help?

Health & Safety documentation

We provide an extensive library of Health and Safety documentation. This will help to ensure that your business remains confident and compliant in H&S. You can also upload and sort your company’s Health and Safety policies and documentation, such as risk assessments.


AutoSafe helps to ensure that businesses remain Health and Safety compliant. Automated reminders and tasks can be sent to your team, allowing them to take proactive action when needing to renew risk assessments, training certifications, and more.

Accident log

Keep up-to-date logs and record accidents and near misses on oneSafe. oneSafe also features a reporting tool that allows you to run detailed reports, identifying and highlighting any potential risks for your employees. By using this you can put proactive solutions in place.

Team of expert consultants

For additional support to reduce the risk of accidents, incidents and near misses occurring in your workplaces, you can give our Health and Safety team a call who will be happy to assist you.

If you would like to learn more about how oneSafe can help you prevent accidents, incidents and near misses in the workplace or require Health & Safety advice, please get in contact with our team today.


Twitter: @oneHR_

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