By Ethan Davis
When an accident occurs, it is an indication that something has gone wrong. Accidents don’t just happen, they are caused. The basic cause(s) of accidents are unsafe acts and/or conditions. The Supervisor must investigate every accident to determine the cause and to initiate corrective action to assure that similar type accidents will not reoccur from the same causes.
Supervisors should complete the Supervisors Accident Investigation Report and submit a copy to the (Insert Appro-priate top management title here such as Corporate President, Owner, Manager, General Manager) for review. The (insert title of person mentioned in prior sentence here) should evaluate the corrective action(s) taken or suggested by the Supervisor and instruct if additional changes should be made.
Tips on accident investigations:
1. Every accident is caused. Carelessness is not a cause, but the result of some deficiency. Telling employees to be more careful will not eliminate the real accident cause.
2. An accident investigation is not a trial to find fault or to place blame. Its purpose is to find accident causes so that corrective measures may be taken to prevent future accidents.
3. Most accidents result from a combination of human error (unsafe behavior) and a physical hazard (unsafe condition). Do not overlook the possibility of multiple errors and hazards.
4. Don’t stop at the obvious answer. For instance, a fall on greasy floor surface does not happen because someone slipped. The accident happened because the grease was allowed to remain on the floor and the worker walked onto it. Determine why the operator did this and why the grease was not cleaned up. Only by correcting both problems can you prevent future accidents.
5. The accident investigation should be conducted as soon after the accident as possible. Facts should be gathered while the accident is fresh in the minds of those involved. If possible, question every employee who was involved, or witnessed, the incident. Delay interviewing injured employees until after medical treatment has been received.
6. Other employees who did not witness the accident, but work in the area, may contribute information regarding the injured worker’s activities prior to the accident and conditions at the time of the accident.
7. The accuracy and completeness of the information received from the injured worker(s) and witness(es) depends on how well the interview is conducted. Supervisors should:
a. Put employees at ease.
b. Ask what happened and how it happened.
c. Permit employees to answer without interruptions.
d. Show concern.
e. Remember, nothing is gained with criticism or ridicule.
f. Ask “why” questions, only to clarify the story.
g. Repeat the story, as you understand it.
h. Give the employee the chance to correct any misunderstandings that you may have.
i. Photographs of the conditions as they exist immediately following the accident, including photos of the damaged equipment, are very helpful.
j. Damaged equipment should be removed or secured for future testing and used as evidence.
k. Employees should not be permitted, under any circumstances, to operate machines or equipment that was damaged in an accident until all necessary repairs have been completed and all damaged parts have been repaired or replaced.
l. Take immediate action to correct any obvious unsafe conditions. Determine the basic accident causes and correct or recommend action to prevent reoccurrence.