While I heartily endorse the view of The Royal Academy of Engineering (NCE 6 October) in advocating the investigation of 'near-miss' site accidents, I suggest that more realistically they should be called 'near-hits'.
This is a term I coined during my time as one of HM Specialist Inspectors for Construction in the HSE, which better describes them and brings home their potential for injury and loss.
I fear that such incidents are not being investigated because, more often than not, those involved often fail to recognise them as such and even if they did, will not own up to mistakes having been made. Nor will they take action to prevent repeats.
Until we have a stronger and more forthright safety ethos among managers in construction, the general reaction to 'near-hits' will continue to be a shrug of the shoulders, a 'that was a close one' comment and orders to clear up the mess quickly, write off the losses and hope that no-one who might cause waves has noticed. Hence my view that, while highly desirable, I suspect that the Academy will not see very many incident reports of the type it proposes.
However, we could profi t considerable from more transparency by the HSE if the technical details of its investigations were published for the information of the construction industry, with the same good intention of preventing accidents.
MA Williams, BSc (Eng), CEng MICE, MIOSH, Welltown Cottage, Welltown, Nr Walkhampton, Yelverton, Devon PL20 6JY