Drawings: Near Miss

Near miss - what is that? (definition from Wikipedia)

A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage; in other words, a miss that was nonetheless very near.

Although the label of 'human error' is commonly applied to an initiating event, a faulty process or system invariably permits or compounds the harm, and should be the focus of improvement. Other familiar terms for these events is a "close call", or in the case of moving objects, "near collision" or a near hit.

You will discover that the database contains a wide range of different unsafe conditions mixed with a lot of unintented events, which almost resultated in an accident.

As many of the shipping companies already has developed their own definition of a near miss, SEAHEALTH has chosen not to have a official definition of a near miss at this stage, but would like to invite the industry to differ between the 4 terms:

  • Unsafe condition
  • Unsafe act
  • Near miss
  • Accident  

In order to explain the differences between the terms we have created several cartoons. (Scroll down the page to see them all)

If we are able to spot the unsafe conditions there is a high likelyhood that we can avoid the unsafe act, near miss and accident.

If we are able to alert each other and have a high safety awareness we would be able to stop the unsafe act, avoiding the near miss and accident.

If we miss the two first opportunities we still have one more chance to avoid the accident. Namely: report and discuss the near miss, in order to prevent the personal injury or accident to hull and machinery. 


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Senior Occupational Health Consultant

Søren Bøge Pedersen


+45 3311 1833

+45 5364 1609

I can help you with:

  • Nearmiss.dk
  • The 8 Safety Links
  • Accident prevention in general
  • Guidance on mooring
  • Welfare-enhancing projects
  • Consultancy
  • The program Health and Safety at Sea