Thousands of accidents occur throughout the United States every day. The failure of people, equipment, supplies, or surroundings to behave or react as expected causes most of the accidents. Accident investigations determine how and why these failures occur. By using the information gained through an investigation, a similar or perhaps more disastrous accident may be prevented. Conduct accident investigations with accident prevention in mind. Investigations are NOT to place blame.
An accident is any unplanned event that results in personal injury or in property damage. When the personal injury requires little or no treatment, it is minor. If it results in a fatality or in a permanent total, permanent partial, or temporary total (lost-time) disability, it is serious. Similarly, property damage may be minor or serious. Investigate all accidents regardless of the extent of injury or damage.
In developing a sequence of events, the challenge is to take the information gathered and arrange it so that we can accurately determine what initial conditions and/or actions transformed the planned work process into an unintended accident process.
The two components of an event:
Actor and the Action
Each event in the unplanned accident process is composed of an actor and an action, so let’s take a look at each.
- Actor: The actor is an individual or object that directly influenced the flow of the sequence of events. An actor may participate in the process or merely observe the process. An actor initiates a change by performing or failing to perform an action.
- Action: An action is “the something” that is done by an actor. Actions may or may not be observable. An action may describe a behavior that is accomplished or not accomplished. Failure to act should be thought of as an act, just as much as an act that is accomplished.
It’s important to understand that when describing an event in writing, first identify the actor and then tell what the actor did. Remember, the actor is the “doer,” not the person or object being acted upon or otherwise having something done to them. For instance, take a look at the event statement below:
“Bob unhooked the lifeline from the harness.”
In the example above, “Bob” is the actor and “unhooked” describes the action. First we describe the actor…Bob. Next, we describe the action…unhooking. The lifeline and harness, although “objects” are not actors because they are not performing an action. Rather, something is being done to them. Also note that the statement is written in active tense.
Accident Investigation Quiz
- Basic Definitions Used In Accident Investigation
- The Reasons & Benefits Of Investigating the Accidents/Incidents
- Which Incidents/Accidents Should Be Investigated?
- Types Of Accidents That Are Most Common
- The Five Sections Of Accident Report
- Elements Of An Effective Accident Investigation Program
- Best Practices For Securing And Documenting An Accident Scene
- Three Primary Phases Of Accident Investigation Cause Analysis