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Farm Safety Myth | Recording a near miss or incident

MYTH: If I start to record incidents and near misses, that will just open me up to fines or expose me to litigation

We are quite passionate about dispelling this myth. In fact, you may be more vulnerable to fines or litigation if you ignore or try to hide an incident or near miss.

What if your incident or near miss could save your life - would you learn from it? Now think if your experience could save someone else’s life. Would you want them to know about it?


What is the difference between a near miss and an incident in farming?

What is a near miss: An unplanned event happening, that does not result in an injury/illness or damage but had potential to do so. This could include bystanders and pedestrians getting too close to moving machinery or using an auger with an unguarded PTO.

What is an incident: Any unplanned event resulting in injury, ill health, damage or loss. Unfortunately, in farming we hear of this all too often in regard to machinery including tractors – an overturned tractor had the potential to result in harm to the operator.

What is a hazard: Anything with the potential to cause harm to a person, property, or equipment. The key difference between a Hazard and a Near Miss is potential for something to occur, and something unplanned occurring for a Near Miss.

If you are familiar with WHS/OHS laws, you will understand the importance of having a system in place that captures near miss reporting. If you have an incident or near miss but decide not to report it, not only are you neglecting to improve safety in your workplace, it could get you into trouble if the regulator decides to investigate or if an insurance claim is made.


Are there benefits to reporting near misses and incidents for agribusinesses?

When reporting near misses and incidents, use it as an opportunity to find solutions to prevent a similar thing reoccurring, promote safety culture in the workplace. And let your workers know about it so they can assist with risk management and avoid any serious incidents from happening. A good reporting and communication process will help you to address hazards in real-time. It is also positive reinforcement that you are committed to the health and safety of your workers and expect them to take it seriously (as you do).

Benefits to having a strong incident and near miss reporting culture in place:

  • It enables companies to pro-actively resolve hazards before a tragic or costly incident occurs
  • It engages workers (all workers at all levels) in solving problems
  • It increases safety ownership and reinforces workers' self-esteem
  • It exposes valuable information that otherwise might not be discussed
  • It develops a positive and necessary attitude surrounding safety
  • It demonstrates compliance with part of the WHS/OHS laws
  • It will most likely save you time and money by preventing serious incidents
  • It helps in your defence if the regulator wants to investigate a serious incident or fatality

If you have a situation you are unsure about, there are many resources available online, however in high-pressure circumstances we understand every situation requires a unique perspective.

We're always here to help.

Topics: Safety Management System

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Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to Australia. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.

Originally published 05 December, 2021.

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