Near Miss Accidents in the Workplace: How to Turn Them Into Learning Opportunities

By: Jennifer Miller, Curriculum Development Coordinator

What is a near miss?

You may be familiar with the term near miss. A near miss, loosely defined, is an event that may have resulted in property damage or injury to personnel, but did not. The more refined definition is more debatable, as to what specifically constitutes a near miss. For your purposes as an employer running a successful workplace training program, as part of your health and safety program, the most important thing you need to know about near misses is that they represent key opportunities for training.


Why are near misses important?

Near misses represent a valuable opportunity to control a hazard. A near miss indicates that an uncontrolled hazard exists, and while an incident did not occur this time, one may occur the next time unless some type of control is put in place. Industry leaders view near misses as both learning and improvement opportunities. They look to determine how the accident would cause property damage or injured personnel, learn from the near miss and then put in place the appropriate improvements.


How can I use a near miss as a Training Opportunity?

OSG does not suggest changing the foundation of their Train-the-Trainer programs; however, we encourage customization with the addition of company specific policies, pictures, and examples. This can be the perfect way to incorporate near misses. Follow these suggestions for maximizing the learning potential from a near miss scenario:

  • Describe the near miss without revealing the outcome.
  • Question participants on what outcomes could have transpired.
  • Describe the near miss and ask participants to identify hazards that contributed.
  • With hazards identified, ask participants to identify effective controls.
  • Use the specific and relatable near miss scenarios in your workplace training, along with OSG’s core programming, to aid in learner retention and to help learners better understand how what they learn in training applies to their jobs.


At OSG we have helped over 5,000 workplaces train their in-house training personnel. Learn more about our Train the Trainer programs or contact us today for more information.