In the previous blog post we discussed why accident investigations were so important to your company’s overall safety plan. In this post, we’ll discuss how to conduct a thorough investigation that will enable you to improve the safety of your business while controlling the cost of your workers’ compensation program.
We suggest a corporate safety philosophy that is a total approach to worker health and safety. Top management should commit to sending workers home safe every night, and each employee should take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their co-workers. Injury sources must be addressed and you must employ supervisors that make sure this philosophy is carried out.
By following these six steps supervisors can thoroughly investigate accidents, and near misses and follow up by implementing safety programs that eliminate the root cause.
1. Secure the accident scene: First, provide medical care to the injured person and once that is done the investigation should begin as soon as possible.
2. Collect facts about what happened: Gather information and take steps to preserve evidence. Identify every witness. Take notes and pictures of the position of the injured worker, and the equipment, materials, or tools being used. Also take note of the safety devices in use including the position of guards, controls, damage to equipment, housekeeping of the area, weather conditions, lighting and noise levels, and then begin interviewing.
3. Develop the sequence of events: Work back from the moment of the accident and try to ascertain the events leading up to the incident, the events of the actual incident, and the events immediately after the incident. Drawing this out on a timeline can help support your recommendations for improvement, and help you write the final report.
4. Determine the causes: Look at who, what, where, why, and how the accident happened. Also look into the time of day the accident happened, level of training the employee had, the availability or condition of tools and vehicles, and other safety standards. Many times, you’ll find a primary and secondary cause, such as an employee slipping on a wet floor. The secondary cause for the injury is the wet floor, but the primary cause for the wet floor is a leaky pipe. By determining the root cause of the accident you can easily recommend improvements.
5. Recommend improvements: Here’s where your investigation makes a difference because you know which exposures to fix. Your recommendations should: Be specific. Be constructive. Get at root causes, and identify contributing factors.
6. Write the report: This is the last step of investigating an accident. Your company should have a standard form for accident reporting. If you don’t have one, contact The Flanders Group for a sample. You will also have to report accidents in your OSHA log to remain compliant
If you have any questions about accident investigation, please contact The Flanders Group today. We can help you develop and implement an accident investigation policy and suggest other processes that can help you control the cost of your workers’ compensation insurance program.