While the number of fatalities experienced by the construction industry has been declining over the past twenty years, the rate of decrease has been slowing down, almost stagnant in recent years (ILO 2003). As an industry, construction has averaged approximately 1,010 fatalities per year revealing that it is still one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. (BLS 2013a). Historically, the construction industry has defined safety performance through the measurement and assessment of lagging indicators; injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. These lagging indicator safety measures are used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assess the state of construction safety (BLS 2013b). One major limitation of assessing worker safety performance using lagging indicators is that accidents must occur before hazards or unsafe worker behavior can be identified and mitigated; it's like looking in the rear view mirror to see where you are going.
An alternative form of safety metric is the leading indicator. These pro-active metrics assess safety performance by gauging processes, activities, and conditions defining safety performance by their adherence to goals future outcomes rather than rely in the past (Hinze et al. 2013). One such indicator is the near miss which is defined as an incident where no property damage and no personal injury occur, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage and injury easily could have occurred (BLS 2013b). The major advantage of measuring leading indicators such as near miss reporting is that data can be collected and analyzed without the requirement of a lagging indicator (injury) to occur.
The goals of this research are to identify the most effective methods for assessing non-injury causing events (near misses) through a review of practices. In addition, evidence will be presented through a case analysis that near miss reporting programs can have a positive impact and reduction of injuries on large construction projects.