When a workplace injury occurs, it’s important to respond quickly by conducting an incident investigation. Quick and planned actions demonstrate your commitment to workplace safety and prevention of future incidents.
Every incident needs to be investigated. This process helps employers look beyond what happened and discover why it happened. If you have prepared an incident investigation plan, you can be confident that you’re taking the appropriate steps to investigate and address the causes in an effort prevent similar incidents from happening again.
Being prepared to investigate incidents before they occur is important. Your incident investigation plan should be an easy-to-follow written plan. OSHA recommends that an effective incident investigation program:
Who is involved
Often, it’s the injured worker’s supervisor who conducts the investigation. However, the safety manager or members of your safety committee may assist. Team investigations tend to be most effective because each team member brings different knowledge, understanding, and perspective.
Those participating in the investigation include the injured worker, witnesses, and the injured worker’s immediate supervisor if someone else is conducting the investigation.
What to collect
Instead of trying to identify a single cause, focus the investigation on the design, environment, work process, and behavioral components of the incident. The National Safety Council recommends collecting:
Training and communication
Training is critical to the success of your overall safety program. All supervisors and safety team members should understand how to conduct an investigation and what roles they play during the investigation. This helps with the transition from emergency response and site safety to preserving the scene and documenting the incident.
Additionally, communicate your commitment to accident investigation and prevention with everyone in the company. It may be helpful to include information about your safety program in the employee handbook.
Analysis and corrective action
When the information has been gathered, and all interviews have been conducted, prepare an analysis of the incident. Your report should identify the root causes of the incident and detail recommended corrective actions.
The investigation is not complete until corrective actions are implemented. The implementation may require time and perseverance; however, your persistence will not only help reduce the risk of future incidents it helps to improve your company's safety, morale and bottom line.
Need help creating an accident investigation program or is it time to review the one you have? Contact a member of LMC's Risk Management team at 515-244-0166 to learn how we can help.
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