Near Miss Investigations – Forklift Safety Newsletter – October 2014

Near Miss Investigations?

Near miss investigations are essential to understanding a forklift accident. While we readily investigate accidents, we are often reluctant to investigate near misses. First of all, we may not even know one occurred. Operators may consider an near miss investigations 1occasional spilled load as part of the job. When one happens, they clean up the mess and get back to work.

But ignoring near misses means missing a chance to improve safety. Yes, it takes a little time to investigate but if can get to the root cause of the incident we can address the real problem and not rely on luck to protect us in the future (at least in this situation).

So let’s conduct a near miss investigation.

near miss investigations 2The photo to the left shows four barrels hitting the pavement. Let’s see what we can learn.

What do you see in the photo (besides the falling barrels)? What about the pedestrians waiting by the crosswalk? Where was the load before the spill? Did you notice the strap securing the pallets?

What direction was the forklift travelling? Since the operator was looking forward we can assume the forklift was too.

What about the operator’s field of view? Was it obstructed by the raised load? Did the operator suddenly realize that there was a crosswalk with pedestrians so they slammed on the brakes and launched the barrels onto the crosswalk?

It only takes a few minutes to ask and answer these questions. (Remember to look only for facts, not fault). When we have the answers we can begin to identify the unsafe work practices which nearly resulted in barrels striking people.

Remember that performing near miss investigations can prevent the need to conduct accident investigations. That seems like a pretty good reason to take a closer look at near misses.

If you would like to share your experiences/photos of forklift incidents that can educate others on the principles of safe forklift operation please send them to:

We will not publish company or individuals names.

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Bruce Hulberg February 10, 2016
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