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Safety Science Monitor

The oil and gas industry is an industry that involves high risks. Therefore, the reduction of risks, the improvement of safety and the prevention of accidents receive ongoing attention. To reduce the number of accidents and their severity, lessons from earlier accidents can be learned and used for the prevention of future accidents. In our understanding, successful learning would mean that the causes are identified and that actions aimed at reducing these causes are implemented and evaluated (Kjellén; Van Court Hare; Laitinen and Ruohomäki 61-73). If there are reoccurrences on offshore installations of the same or similar types of incidents, it suggests a failure to use the information about these incidents and to learn from them. However, significant resources are used to register information about near misses – unwanted incidents that could result in material Issue 2 2013 ISSN 1443-8844 damages or personal injuries. It is possible that this information could provide valuable information that enables the prevention of future accidents. According to van der Schaaf (1992), learning from near misses could be useful because near misses provide qualitative insight into how (small) failures or errors develop into near misses (van der Schaaf, p. 23). Near misses occur more often than accidents, and because of their greater number, near misses therefore provide statistically reliable insight into the occurrence of factors that create the risk of incidents (van der Schaaf). Not only are near misses more numerous than accidents, they are also less threatening to discuss because the consequences are limited. Moreover, although incidents with severe consequences gain significant attention, their impact decays over time. In our study, we aim to identify how near misses are reported and whether these near-miss reports are used as information to learn from. In our study, we assume that the corrections of errors or deviations that are made after a near-miss report would have a direct effect on reducing accidents because the errors or deviations that could lead to an accident are removed (Laitinen, Marjamäki, and Päivärinta 463-72). However, there is also an indirect effect if the organisation is learning from these events and the learning is used for the prevention of similar incidents. Thus, better knowledge about the reporting and use of near-miss data could improve the safety of offshore installations because it will allow for learning from these near misses and for the identification of technical, personal or organisational weaknesses.

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Center for Maritime Health and Society, Denmark


TNO Work and Employment, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands


National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark

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