Accident Investigations

Have a plan!  Developing a plan in advance will save time when an accident occurs.

  • Identify who will:
    • Be in charge of the investigation
    • Gather physical evidence
    • Take notes and photographs
    • Interview witnesses and victims
    • Prepare the final report
    • Receive the final report
  • Accident investigation should be done promptly to help in collecting the most accurate information before conditions change.
  • Question the injured party and witnesses on an individual basis so that others do not influence them.
  • Ask questions that focus on what happened to obtain the best data. Concentrate on the events that occurred and document things such as time, location, and objects involved in the accident.
  • Concentrate fact-gathering on what caused the accident to occur and not on the result (injury or illness) of the accident.
  • Use open-ended questions when interviewing witnesses to avoid influencing their answers. For example, ask a witness to “Tell me what you saw” rather than “Do you think the injured person committed an unsafe act?”
  • Listen! It is difficult to avoid interrupting someone when you have a question, but let the person explain what he or she saw or knows in his or her own words, as completely as possible, before asking more questions to clarify information.
  • Gather your information at the actual scene. This will create a clearer picture of the events than might otherwise be obtained as individuals try to recall what happened as they sit with you in an office interview.
  • Ask for recommendations from employees who do the same job. Ask what corrective measures might prevent a similar accident.
  • Look at the facts to determine actions that will eliminate or reduce the risk, relieving the employee from the burden of trying to “remember the proper actions” or “being careful.” Whenever possible, take corrective actions that reduce/eliminate the hazard or physically guard the employee from the hazard.

An accident report is only good for one thing – to provide information that can be used to keep a similar situation from occurring. Include the following in your report: a description of the accident, the facts determined by the investigation, a list of suspected root causes, and the recommendations for corrective and preventive action.

Follow up!