Some workers see near miss reporting as an unnecessary piece of administration. Even when investigating minor cuts and bruises, the common excuse for workers tends to be “I just need to be more careful next time.” The question that should be asked is “What can we do to make it less likely that carelessness would result in an accident?”
Selig manufacture food packaging materials at their site in Slough. In 2009, following an accident where a worker was injured by unguarded rollers on a laminating machine, the HSE issued Selig with an improvement notice, requiring an improved risk assessment of the machine to consider the guarding requirements of PUWER .
Selig later replaced the laminator with one that had improved guarding, but still had an area that was not fully guarded. They installed pressure-sensitive mats to prevent people standing in the danger zone, but these were quite small. When the machine failed to wind the sealing material onto the reel, workers were in the habit of reaching across the mats to use a broom handle to hook the material back on. When a near miss was reported, where a worker was nearly dragged into the rollers using this method, Selig sent out a safety alert warning of the dangers of using a broom – it could cause an injury if it became caught and kicked back to the worker. Selig did not improve the guarding. A few months later, a worker was using his hand to attempt to reattach the material, and he was pulled in up to his shoulder, causing multiple fractures, and muscle and nerve damage.
The problem with many near miss and accident reporting systems is that they don’t allow you to see the patterns than occur in accidents. Reports pile up, and even with some computer-based reporting systems whilst you can sort data by department or severity, you can’t always sort by equipment type. When you review a Risk Assessment for a piece of equipment, you need to be able to see all the accidents and near misses associated with that equipment in order to consider if the existing controls are working. The HSE investigation at Selig identified an inadequate risk assessment as a contributing factor to the accident.
Effective software’s Incident, Accident and Hazard Reporting functions allows you to associate each event with a piece of plant, and you can create reports that show how many of each type of event are associated with each Plant item.
Selig were Fined £240,000 for the offence , and have since fitted a fixed guard to the laminating machine so that moving parts are completely blocked off. Make sure you track your near misses to identify fixes before someone is hurt!
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