Environmental Near Misses
Even with comprehensive health and safety training and all of the risk assessments and planning in the world, there will still be the possibility of accidents and incidents occurring. This can be due to many reasons, such as a worker making a mistake, automatic safeguards failing, overwhelming forces of nature such as an earthquake or tsunami affecting the site etc. Just as these incidents can affect the health and safety of people both on and near the site, there will also be incidents which can have environmental consequences and cause harm to the surrounding plant and animal life.
More common than actual incidents will be near misses. This is when operations do not go quite as intended or safety features do not function as well as expected, and an accident is avoided but was close to occurring. Environmental near misses are those which would negatively affect the environment should the incident have taken place.
Whether it is an environmental near miss or one which would have put at risk those people working on site, all near misses need to be thoroughly investigated to determine the factors which contributed to it happening. This is because it is highly likely that existing working practices, procedures, control measures, safety features and the like are not effective enough at preventing an incident coming about. If they were then this near miss would in all honesty not have happened. It will therefore be necessary for steps to be taken to tighten up these factors with the intention of preventing such issues conspiring again to create the potential for an accident or incident, as the next time it may not be a near miss but one which actually causes substantial damage to the health of people or to the environment.
As well as improving processes and safeguards, workers may actually need to receive more training in environmental safety and hazards, and how to perform risk assessments that focus on environmental impacts and consequences. The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate is a qualification which is becoming increasingly popular as firms concentrate more on how their operations can affect the surrounding environment, and the subsequent financial implications and loss of reputation that can come with the media attention and negative publicity of being a polluter or harmer of the environment.
For more information on NEBOSH courses including the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate please click on the "NEBOSH Courses" option from the "Health & Safety" drop-down menu at the top of the page.