How many times have you shrugged off a near injury miss? Never gave it a second thought? Next time think twice. The difference between a near miss and an accident is a fraction of a second or an inch. And when it happens again, that difference may not be there.

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One study shows that for every 330 incidents of the same type, 300 produce no injuries, 29 produce minor injuries and once produces a major injury. The problem lies in the fact that we can never truly know which time a major injury will occur. Near misses are warnings and if we learn from these warnings and look for causes, we may be able to prevent injury or damage.

Imagine this scenario:

You are going up a walkway into a building. Your foot slips. Being agile and empty handed, you regain your balance with no harm done.

Another person comes along. He slips, but his reactions are a little slower than yours. To keep from falling, he jumps off the walkway. Again, no harm done.

Then comes a third person carrying a load. He has the same experience, but falls off the walkway with the load on top of him. He breaks his ankle.

Two warnings were ignored. Finally, someone was hurt. Now the loose cleat, sand, or mud on the walkway is discovered and the condition corrected. Whenever you see a near miss, ask “Why?”

Always take near misses seriously and when you can, take time to correct the condition and if not, report it to someone who can. And don’t let your inaction be the reason someone gets injured. Near misses are just as serious as injuries and should never be shrugged off.