Near misses can help you hit the mark for safety

An accident in December could have been avoided if proper safety precautions had been taken.

Near misses can provide valuable information about potential dangers that we might fail to notice in our everyday work. Take, for example, a recent event that happened at the laboratory.

In December, two staff members were preparing to move equipment stored on a large shelving system that contained decommissioned equipment earmarked as excess or scrap. A floor dolly loaded with equipment was propped against the shelving, and when one of the workers moved it away, the shelving system collapsed. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

This near miss was used as a chance to educate the laboratory about dangers similar shelving systems can pose.

Those who investigated the incident noted that neither the sides nor the backs of the shelves had the necessary cross supports to reinforce the unit. In addition, the shelving system was not secured to the wall. The combination of poor installation and the heavy equipment stored on the shelves—especially on the higher shelves—caused them to collapse. Now individuals from all organizations within the laboratory are visually inspecting their shelving to ensure that they don’t have the same issues.

If you are installing a shelving system, make sure you follow all the directions. If you see any storage or shelving that looks unsafe, please contact your Senior Safety Officer.

—Amy Pavnica