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Investigate near misses say top engineers

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NEAR-MISSES should be investigated with the same rigor and intensity as that given to actual accidents on site, according to a new report into accident prevention by the UK Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE).

The report highlights that the profession learns much from the technical and management mistakes behind serious accidents and calls for this approach to be extended to incidents 'that may not benefit from this same fortuitous chance'.

'It all starts from the top: getting company directors to recognise that taking time to investigate the incidents and accidents that didn't happen gives worthwhile learning, ' explained report author Trevor Truman.

'It can be seen as an unnecessary overhead but one can see that nothing can be worse for a company than having a major accident.' Truman emphasised the need for all investigations to be transparent, independent, and carried out with rigor, to understand what led to the failure without apportioning blame.

The RAE report is the result of consultation across seven industrial sectors including the construction, rail and nuclear industries. Truman said the study highlighted that even when hindered by legal processes the profession passed information back from serious incidents effectively.

However, he called for the introduction of simplified digests of major incident investigation findings to help the industry understand how it should respond, and urged the profession to incorporate past accident awareness into the training of young engineers.

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