The goal of an accident investigation is to prevent the recurrence of the accident.
The 6-step investigation strategy:
• Gather information
•Search for and establish facts
• Isolate essential contributing factors
• Find root causes
• Determine corrective actions
• Implement corrective actions
• Contains sufficient information to allow a determination of probable cause
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.
- Gather information. Get a brief overview of the situation from witnesses and employees directly involved in the incident. At this point a detailed report is not required. You just need enough information to understand the basics of what happened. Interview victims and witnesses as soon as possible after the incident, but do not interrupt medical care to interview. Interview each person separately and do not allow witnesses to confer prior to the interview. During the interview put the person at ease. People may be reluctant to discuss the incident, particularly if they think someone will get in trouble. Reassure them that this is a fact-finding process only. Remind them that these facts will be used to prevent a recurrence of the incident. Get a written, signed statement from the witness. It is best if the witness writes his or her own statement, but otherwise interview notes signed by the witness may be used.
- Establish facts. Examine the accident scene, looking for things that will help you understand what happened. This includes looking for dents, cracks, scrapes, splits, etc. in equipment; tire tracks, footprints, etc.; spills or leaks; scattered or broken parts; and so on. Also take photographs. Photograph any items or scenes that may provide an understanding of what happened to anyone who was not there. Photograph any items that will not remain or that will be cleaned up (spills, tire tracks, footprints, etc.). In addition, review records. Check training records to determine if appropriate training was provided and when training was provided. Check equipment maintenance records to find out if regular PM or service was provided or if there is a recurring type of failure. Check accident records to find out if there have been similar incidents or injuries involving other employees.
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