Near miss !

A near miss . . . is an incident!

near miss3Having studied safety, risk management and contingency planning extensively, I find much merit in the readings of my school’s lesson this evening for “Legal Issues and Ethics in Hospitality Management” the class I’m currently taking on line.  I had scanned (I really don’t read much of anything . . . never had, never will) several of the publishing’s/readings required by the lesson. It seems the lesson’s suggested website was reasonably inundated with writings by Karen Morris, a hospitality lawyer specializing in the food and beverage industry. I found the articles she has written to be quite “spot on”! She breaks down incidents and accidents identifying many root causes and presents an “in-your-face” approach to dealing with those incidents, their root causes and the proper preventative measures that could have . . . or should have, been taken by the operator of the establishment, or even the guest that happens to be visiting the establishment.

Comparatively speaking, the required text we were also expected to read, only outlines basic steps in dealing with an incident once it has already happened. Yes the book, throughout its contents, identifies ways to prevent accidents or incidents, but steers well clear of any type of comprehensive list of preventative measures. Doing so would take up the entire book (see 29 CFR 1910); because literally speaking, any one of most all possible scenarios could take place in a restaurant or hospitality organization (e.g. losing a finger tip to the Hobart, falling out of an unsecured railing on an ADA pathway, slipping on a wet bathroom floor). Limitless!near miss2

The book itself has an easy list for managers to follow if faced with an accident or incident. One thing the book, or Ms. Morris’ writings failed (or . . . at least I didn’t see them) to identify or mention, was identifying and documenting “incidents” or more specifically “near misses”.

A near miss can be identified as an incident in which nothing got broken or no one got injured. A near miss, if it weren’t classified a “near miss”, could have broken something or injured someone, but luck was on someone’s side because something (a link) in the “chain of events” was broken. A near miss, if properly documented, can lead to the identification of root causes and identification of links in the chain pointed at many things; defective or degrading equipment, lack of proper training, ineffective management, horse-play, procedural deficits or improper planning, just to name a few.

If I look for a moment at improper planning, I have to point to risk management and contingency planning. Many, if not all, of safety prevention techniques . . . and business management practices, can be effectively mitigated or losses minimized, if proper risk management techniques and effective contingency planning protocols are established at the earliest stages of a business’ setup.

Risk management, the precursor to contingency planning, is actually a process that every conceivable “risk” is identified and documented, then given a score of its “probability” (e.g. likely, not likely, highly likely, etc) of it happening, and the “severity” (no possible damage or injury, hospitalization, death, etc) if it does happen. Contingency planning takes every possible scenario and the “what ifs” and plans out the “what to dos” should the event happen. All of the possible scenarios are carefully written down and documented, for management to follow. No questions about what to do, and no second guessing judgments by management staff.

Flow charts are one of the best preventative measures that can be taken for any business. Another form of this can be a manager’s flip guide to help them through scenarios if and when they are encountered.

near miss4Risk management, once scores have been identified, takes each risk and eliminates the risk or reduces its probability and severity to minimums; this is done through three process steps. 1) Engineering controls. Designing out the risk (e.g. machine guarding, safety cutout switch, placing an ADA handle in the restroom). 2) Administrative controls (e.g. staff training on how to use the equipment or safety placards to warn guests “wet floor”). Finally once, and ONLY when the other two have been fully executed and exhausted, can you move to 3) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (e.g. use of a cut resistant glove while cutting meat). Although there is seemingly limited PPE that can be afforded a guest in a restaurant, there are endless possibilities that are deployed in the hospitality industry (e.g. floatation devices for water sports/events, protective eyewear and hearing protection for skeet shooting on a cruise-liner).near miss 5

Contingency planning takes the risk management model and also entails preparation for interruption of service/business. Should an event happen that leads to poor press or perhaps a loss of facility (e.g. food poisoning, a shooting,  a hurricane with devastating results or even a simple sewage leak), having a contingency plan is an aid in preventative measures designed at seamless operations that help sustaining business for short term and/or well into the future.

Are you ready to look at your business?

Call me!


 Works Cited

Morris, Karen. “Decorations can be dangerous | Hotel Management.” Hotel Management provides the top news, expertise and insights into the hotel and hospitality industry | Hotel Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. <;.

Morris, Karen. “All accident remedies are not created equal | Hotel Management.” Hotel Management provides the top news, expertise and insights into the hotel and hospitality industry | Hotel Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2013. <

Yeah, this was started as a school assignment! Just cleaned it up a bit for publishing!


2 thoughts on “Near miss !

  1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Prior preparation and staff training is the key to keeping “accidents” out of your kitchen. I put the word quotes because the word accident intimates an unpreventable event with an negative outcome.

    After spending 30 years in a kitchen, I can not recall any injury that was un-preventable. If you don’t want to be injured by your equipment, keep up on it’s maintenance and train your staff in it’s proper use. Don’t want to cut yourself with a knife, purchase good blades, (Yea there expensive but worth the money in quality and safety). Keep them sharp and train your staff in the proper knife handling skills, and correct them if they are not followed. Don’t want to poison someone with your product? Remember that boring class in culinary school about High activity critical control points? Actually put together an HACCP plan, don’t just read about it and think, Yea that’s a good idea and then never get around to putting the plan together.

    Accidents that can be prevented by preparation and training are no accidents at all. This is simply put, poor management and supervision.

    1. Accidents are never accidental. That’s why the safety profession calls them incidents. Whether it resulted in damage or injury, or whether it could have. Report it, and train on it.

      I’m huge on safety; although I probably don’t make a good role model around my own home by walking around barefoot everywhere.

      I’m also huge on training of staff; not only in safety and prevention, but on menu preparation and flavor affinities.

      I showed you that picture of the clean kitchen I saw at an Elks lodge. That guy (Chef Keith) knew he was not getting any new equipment anytime soon when he took over the kitchen, so he’d better fix it and take care of it; albeit he’s older as you and I, and realizes that pain is just not worth it anymore.

      Think, Think, Think . . . and tuck your pinky in!

      Plans are just what they are, plans. It’s what you plan to do. Not what everyone wants to hear that you want to do. Write a plan and stick to it; if it doesn’t work in your favor, change the plan and re-evaluate it every 6-months or every year. Write new policy statements, or policies and train your staff. Hold them accountable so you have a good picture of what might need to change the following year. Then re-plan. Repeat!


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