OSHA recently reported that there were nearly 4,000 deaths last year surrounding work place accidents and three million individuals were injured in work-related accidents. This is an alarming number and demonstrates why accident investigations are important.
Accident investigations are crucial and help prevent or correct situations where workers could be harmed or injured. The National Safety Council defines an accident as “an undesired event that results in personal injury or property damage.”
There is not a defined set of guidelines on how to conduct an accident investigation. An investigation should generally be as thorough as the seriousness of the accident or event.
Aspects of a Good Accident Investigation
For an investigation to be conducted correctly, the correct person should be leading it. Safety officers, a union representative, or members of the safety committee would be good choices to lead the investigation. The person chosen should have an expert-level knowledge of the environment in which the accident occurred.
It is important to train supervisors or safety investigators the aspects of a successful investigation and how it can prevent further accidents. Training topics could include:
- How the scene of an accident should be surveyed
- Who to contact in case of an emergency and how to tend to injured persons
- How to protect the evidence of the scene
- Determining the cause of the accident
- How to analyze the data involved
- Filling out an accurate and thorough accident report
- Following up to ensure policies have been implemented to correct the problem going forward
Accidents occur frequently on job sites. Many are caused while attempting to complete dangerous jobs or by the materials being used. Some come from environmental conditions, personal choices or decisions, or simply a lack of training. The important thing to remember in conducting an accident investigation is to understand and aim to prevent the cause of an accident, not to find the guilty party.