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Using Near Miss Reporting in Security
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Near Miss Reporting
Near-miss reporting is widely used in accident prevention and safety in industries such as manufacturing, transportation, aviation, and healthcare. Near miss reporting is based on the premise that for every serious injury accident that occurs, there were many, many more "near misses" where there was the potential for an accident to occur, but nothing happened. By reporting, investigating and analyzing these near misses, the number of future accidents can be greatly reduced.
What is a "Near Miss"?
A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in an accident or injury, but had the potential to do so. Only a lucky interruption in the chain of events prevented a tragic incident from occurring. Near-misses are also sometimes call "close-calls", "narrow escapes", and "lucky breaks".
Examples of near misses include:
Why is the Reporting of Near Misses Important?
Some safety experts estimate that for every 1 serious injury accident that occurs, there are 29 minor injury accidents, and over 300 near misses. Because of the large number of near misses that occur relative to the number of accidents that occur, they are a rich source of data for identifying and analyzing the causes of accidents. Organizations that diligently report,investigate, and analyze near misses are often able to improve safety and greatly reduce the number of accidents that occur.
How Can Near Miss Reporting be Applied to Security?
It is our opinion that the basic principles of near miss reporting can be directly applied to security. Like in safety, near misses occur almost daily in almost every security program. For every serious loss or security incident, there are many, many more near misses where a loss could have occurred but didn't.
Examples of near misses in security include:
In each of these cases, there was the potential for a loss to occur, but due to fortunate circumstances, the loss didn't happen. These are security "near misses". We estimate that for every 1 serious security incident, there are 10 minor security incidents, and as many as 100 security near misses.
Understanding what happened and why in each near miss situation is important in order to identify vulnerabilities in your security program and to take action to correct them. When major security losses or injuries do occur, employees often look back in hindsight and see that there were many warning signs (near misses) that this type of event was likely to happen, but these signs were ignored.
Most organizations have some form of security incident reporting system in place, but these systems don't always do a good job of tracking near misses. Often, if nothing is actually lost or stolen, an incident report is not filed. Employees often don't want to take the time to fill out an incident report if they can avoid it, and sometimes fear that reporting a near miss will get them or someone else in trouble.
We recommend that existing security reporting systems be expanded to track near misses, and that employees at all levels in the organization be encouraged to report security near misses. The following is recommended:
Also see related article: Security Incident Reporting System
Please contact us if you have any questions or need help in creating a security incident reporting system for your facility.