How Close Calls Prevent Fatalities

January 11, 2020
How Close Calls Prevent Fatalities

Close call reporting is of paramount importance when it comes to predicting and preventing fatality or injury on the rail.

Close calls act as ‘leading indicators’: proactive measures that monitor how effective safety processes are before the level of an injury is reached. They reflect how efficient the current processes are and highlight a risk to be addressed.

These leading indicators are in opposition to ‘lagging indicators’, which are reactive and record outcomes after something has happened, like an accident.

Close calls allow businesses to make proactive improvements to your working process or environment. According to the National Safety Council, 75% of accidents are preceded by a close call. Therefore the proper reporting, reflecting and acting on close calls could be pivotal for on-site safety.

What Might A Close Call Indicate?

Process Improvements

A close call might indicate that the way a team does a certain activity may not be the safest option. Recommended processes, methods, and safety precautions are constantly evolving and a close call might suggest that it’s time to review yours.


A close call could be the result of a fatigued workforce. Fatigued people are likely to make mistakes. According to a report by the RAIB, fatigue was a contributory or causal factor in at least 74 railway accident and incident reports between 2001 and 2009 (RAIB, East Somerset Junction Report 2009).

So a close call might highlight a need for better fatigue management or resource allocation. This kind of reporting should form part of your Fatigue Risk Management System.


In some cases, the close call could be a result of inefficient or unsafe practice on site. This doesn’t necessarily equate to an "unsafe worker" but a need for improved training and enforcement of safety procedures. Constant reviews should be completed of your workforce’s skills and training.

Faulty Equipment

Is a piece of your equipment old, faulty or simply not up to the best standard? Whether it’s a piece of railing or an entire unit of plant, a close call might flag up something that needs to be fixed.

Why Don’t People Report Close Calls?

Fear Of Blame

In some workplaces, people fear being blamed for the issue and prefer to sweep it under the rug. It is the employer’s responsibility to create a no-blame, "just" culture and question the system that allowed the close call to happen, rather than the individual. Making it clear that close calls are a reflection of the safety process should encourage more reporting.

Previous Inaction

If previous close calls have been ignored or not properly investigated, your workforce might not see the point. Make sure reports are thoroughly investigated and be transparent in communicating with your workforce: what the result was and what you intend to do about it. If they see positive action being taken they will be more likely to speak up.

Poor Reporting Process

If the process for reporting close calls is unclear, people won’t do it. You need to make it as easy as possible for them by reducing the amount of time-consuming paperwork and establishing a clear chain of communication for who needs to be informed and how.

That’s Where Raildiary Comes In…

Raildiary builds close call reporting into the daily shift record to simplify the process, speed it up and make it available in real-time for office-based staff. Close calls are integrated into the shift report, with photo and video embedded.

The report can then be exported and integrated with project management and data visualisation software such as PowerBI to identify recurring risks, trends and inefficiencies. Easily share key safety metrics with clients and improve your HSQE process.

Raildiary have also produced a free Fatigue Risk Index Calcuator! You can use the calculator to help to support NR/L2/OHS/003 compliance and recieve a PDF download with a detailed breakdown of the fatigue calculation, allowing you to fully understand fatigue trigger points!

Get in touch with our product team to find out how we can help improve your health and safety reporting.

Will Doyle


I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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