How to Conduct an Accident Investigation
Accident investigations are not fault-finding. They are fact-finding so effective corrective action can be identified and implemented. When an injury occurs you want to be able to identify the “root cause” of the accident which led to the injury and implement effective corrective action. Many state OSHA programs require employers to have a procedure for investigating accidents and near misses.
Basic Steps for Accidents Investigation
Choose what questions to ask.
Conduct employee/witness interviews.
Identify the “root causes” of the accident.
Identify effective corrective actions to reduce the possibility of a recurrence.
Things to Consider During an Accident Investigation
Visit the accident site before the physical evidence is altered.
Make visual records if needed to help understand how the accident occurred (This can be done by using sketches, photographs, notes, the condition of the area, etc.)
Determine what accident-related items should be preserved. This could include equipment, tools, PPE, and other items in the area of the accident.
Identify the people who can help determine accident causes such as eyewitnesses or supervisors.
Interview employees as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the less accurate their memories will be.
Review any relevant documents, such as work procedures and training records.
Reenact the events leading up to the accident to get a better understanding of what happened. Obviously, make sure that nobody’s safety is put at risk during a reenactment.
When collecting facts, make sure to:
Separate facts from opinion or bias.
Distinguish between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.
Prioritize eyewitness testimony over hearsay.
Questions to Ask During an Accident Investigation
WHO was involved in the accident?
WHAT job task was the employee involved doing at the time of the accident?
WHEN did the accident occur?
WHERE did the accident occur?
WHY did the accident happen?
HOW could the accident have been prevented? Ask employees including the injured employee (at the appropriate time)
When your accident investigation is complete, a report should be written up and kept on-file. Corrective actions should be planned and implemented. The goal is to eliminate the unsafe actions or conditions that led to the accident so that it never happens again. Near misses should be treated just as seriously.
For Accident Investigation Training, Advice, and Programs on How to Conduct Accident Investigation, contact our team today to learn how we can make your workplace safer!