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Elements Of An Effective Accident Investigation Program

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Accident investigation is the process of determining the root causes of accidents, on-the-job injuries, property damage, and close calls in order to prevent them from occurring again. Accident investigation will lead you to the real cause of why something happened and armed with that knowledge, you can take affirmative steps to prevent future accidents from occurring.

Effective Accident Investigation Program

An effective accident investigation program will be guided by standard written procedures. It’s important to make sure procedures are clearly stated and easy to follow in a step-by-step fashion. The effective program will include the following elements:

  • Joint Investigation: Usually a supervisor, safety manager, or management/labor team conducts the investigation. Usually, two heads work better than one, especially when gathering and analyzing material facts about the accident. We recommend a team approach.
  • Training: All accident investigators will be formally trained on accident investigation techniques and procedures.
  • Fact-Finding vs. Fault-Finding: The accident investigation must be perceived as separate from any potential disciplinary procedures resulting from the accident. The purpose of the accident investigation is to get at the facts, not find fault. The accident investigator must be able to state with all sincerity, that he or she is conducting the investigation only for the purpose of determining cause, not blame.
Difference Between Surface Cause & Root Cause And Examples
  • Recommendations: The accident investigation report will make recommendations to correct hazardous conditions, work practices, and those underlying contributing factors that allowed them to exist. In many instances, the surface causes for the accidents are corrected on the spot, and will be reported as such. But the investigator must make recommendations for long-term corrections in the safety and health system to make sure those surface causes do not reappear.
  • Formal Report: The accident investigation report will be in writing and will make sure that the surface causes and root causes of accidents are addressed. Most accident reports are ineffective precisely because they neglect to uncover the underlying reasons or factors that contribute to the accident.
  • Follow-up: Assignment of responsibilities and follow-up procedures to make sure short and long-term corrective actions are completed.
  • Review: An annual review of accident reports. A couple of safety committee members evaluate accident reports for consistency and quality. They must make sure root causes are being addressed and corrected. Information about the types of accidents, locations, trends, etc., can be gathered.

Accident Investigation Quiz

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