One accident indicates a problem. But when the same thing happens again… well, that’s negligence! Accidents do occur, and we must take preventive actions to ensure it does not happen again, but repeat violation or accidents so a lack of corrective actions and open up the company to heavy regulatory fines and lawsuits.
Here are some suggestions for preventing repeat accidents.
When an accident occurs, the first thing that needs to be done, of course, is treat any injuries. Then a series of key steps of any accident investigation must be taken:
- Secure the area of the incident. Avoid disturbing the scene.
- You must make a mental note to yourself and maybe you will need to rely this to other people: Your investigation is to determine the root cause of the accident, your investigation will never place blame on any individuals. A root cause analysis will determine what happened, but never place blame.
- Gather witnesses and statements. Ask witnesses to write a preliminary statement as soon as possible. One thing you must remember ( as the investigator) is that people see different things. They might have seen the same incident, but their mind captured
- Retain records. Keep a list of witnesses. Compile all information in a file. This file now becomes a legal material, in case the incident goes to the legal arena. Make copies of everything for your records in case you are called in as a witness.
- All personal information, names of victims, witnesses and such are confidential. Do not release their information outside your report.
- Inspect accident site. Take pictures and make sketches. Inspect tools and equipment. Take note of personal protective equipment in the area. Look for abnormal conditions.
- Interview witnesses. Create a step-by-step account of what happened. Interview witnesses separately.
- Analyze data. Determine the direct cause (what materials were involved in the accident), the indirect cause (what unsafe conditions led to accident), and the basic cause (what personnel problems, environmental factors contributed).
- Make recommendations. Your recommendations are important. Describe what actions must be taken to correct the situation. Most recommendation you make will have to in accordance with federal regulations, so reference your recommendation to a specific regulation. You must do your research.
- Issue a report. Make sure the report is circulated to all managers, supervisors, and members of upper management who need to see it.
- Communicate findings to employees. Inform employees about how and why the accident occurred and what steps you are taking to correct problems.
During an accident investigation, you should also consider possible contributing causes—even those that might have had only a small impact on the incident. Remember one small change might have set a different chain of event into place, resulting in avoiding the accident. These factors could lead to a repeat accident. The investigator needs to consider:
- Was the necessary PPE used?
- Was it available? How difficult was it to access?
- Is there a policy to wear PPE and is it enforced?
- Were tools in proper condition?
- Was machine guarding in place?
- Was equipment inspected prior to use?
Always keep in mind and repeat it to witnesses often, Accident investigations should be fact-finding missions designed to prevent future accidents and shouldn’t be used as a way to point blame.
All investigation of accident and near-misses can identify patterns that must be addressed to prevent repeat accidents.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.