Accidents can happen anywhere, but they can have serious consequences when they occur in the workplace. Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment. When an accident happens, it is their responsibility to investigate and take measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Conducting an accident investigation can be a challenging task. Still, it is essential to identify the root cause of the accident and implement corrective actions to prevent it from happening again.
In this blog, we will discuss the steps involved in conducting an accident investigation at the workplace, including gathering information, analyzing data, determining the cause of the accident, and developing corrective actions. Whether you are a safety manager, supervisor, or employee, this guide will help you understand the accident investigation process and ensure that your workplace remains safe and free from accidents.
Who should investigate The Accident?
Investigations should be led by supervisors, line managers, or other people with sufficient status and knowledge to make recommendations that the organization will respect. The person to conduct many investigations will be the Department Manager or Supervisor of the person/ area involved because they:
- know about the situation;
- know most about the employees;
- have a personal interest in preventing further incidents/accidents affecting ‘ their ’ people, equipment, area, materials;
- can take immediate action to avoid a similar incident;
- can communicate most effectively with the other employees concerned;
- Can demonstrate practical concern for employees and control over the immediate work situation.
When should the investigation be conducted?
The investigation should be carried out immediately after the incident to obtain the maximum information. There may be difficulties that should be considered in setting up the investigation quickly – if, for example, the victim is removed from the accident site or there is a lack of a particular expert. An immediate investigation is advantageous because:
- factors are fresh in the minds of witnesses;
- witnesses have had less time to talk (there is an almost automatic tendency for people to adjust their story of the events to bring it into line with a consensus view);
- physical conditions have had less time to change;
- more people are likely to be available, for example, delivery drivers, contractors, and visitors, who will quickly disperse following an incident, making contact very difficult;
- there will probably be the opportunity to take immediate action to prevent a recurrence and to demonstrate management commitment to improvement;
- Immediate information from the person suffering the accident often proves most useful.
Consideration should be given to asking the person to return to the site for the accident investigation if they are physically able, rather than waiting for them to return to work. Although not as valuable, a second option would be to visit the injured person at home or even in the hospital (with their permission) to discuss the accident.
How to Conduct an Accident Investigation
Conducting an accident investigation is an important process that aims to determine an accident’s root cause(s), identify contributing factors, and make recommendations for corrective actions to prevent future accidents. Here are some steps to follow when conducting an accident investigation:
- Secure the accident scene: The first step is to secure the accident scene to ensure that no further harm is caused and that important evidence is preserved. If necessary, notify emergency services and ensure injured persons receive medical attention.
- Collect information: Gather information about the accident, including witness statements, photographs, video footage, and any available documentation such as safety procedures, equipment manuals, and maintenance records.
- Determine the sequence of events: Develop a timeline leading up to the accident, including any actions taken by individuals involved and any equipment or machinery used.
- Identify the root cause(s): Analyze the information collected to identify the accident’s root cause(s). The root cause(s) is the underlying reason(s) for the accident that, if addressed, can prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
- Develop recommendations: Based on the root cause analysis, develop recommendations for corrective actions that can be taken to prevent future accidents. These recommendations should address any systemic issues identified during the investigation.
- Implement corrective actions: Once recommendations have been developed, it’s important to implement them as soon as possible to prevent similar accidents from occurring.
- Review and follow up: Finally, review the recommendations periodically to ensure that they are effective and continue to prevent accidents. Follow up with any affected individuals to ensure they know the recommendations and follow any new procedures or guidelines.
Conducting an accident investigation requires attention to detail, a thorough understanding of the accident scene and circumstances, and a commitment to implementing effective corrective actions.