Accident Investigation

Why do we investigate accidents? Is it to place blame on someone? Is it to find out what system failed? Is it to find out who committed an unsafe act? Is it to find out if a piece of equipment malfunctioned? These are questions that run through our minds when an accident occurs. The answer is that an accident investigation takes place to find the root cause of the incident and then to take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. Any worker may be involved. We know that accidents do occur and what you see and do can help with the investigation.

First let's define 'Accident.' It's an unplanned event which interrupts the normal progress of an activity, resulting in property damage and sometimes minor or serious injuries. Studies show that 85% of accidents in our industry are caused by an employee's unsafe act, the other 15% by unsafe conditions. Knowing this, all of us can work toward preventing unsafe acts and correcting unsafe conditions.

An accident investigation should take place as soon as possible after the injured party has been taken care of and/or the physical property is secured. Usually the supervisor will start documenting what happened, who was involved, the date, the time, and names and addresses of those involved, including witnesses. Other information such as the location of the accident, nature and extent of injury or property damage, weather conditions, etc. are all noted.

As a worker you will play a big part in the investigation. Your first hand knowledge, what you saw and did before, during, and after the accident could be very helpful. You may have seen something that no one else saw, and your information could help determine the cause of the accident.

The major objective in an accident investigation is discovering the What, When, Why and How behind the accident. The end result will be to determine both the direct and indirect causes. This information can then be used to prevent similar accidents, detect possible trends and problem areas, and to promote improvement in safety procedures.

Working safely will help to ensure that accidents don't take place. Please do your part.

SAFETY REMINDERS

A "Near Miss" Is an Incident That Did Not Cause

An Injury or Property Damage but Had the Potential to Do So!

* Safety Is No Accident *

We welcome comments about this article, and your requests for future topics.

    If you have a specific topic you would like to see covered here or that you may need for your company, please send an Email to our Tail Gate Safety Topics editor, Dave Miller at demiller@pacificemployers.com or to peinfo@pacificemployers.com. Thanks!