When an accident occurs, it is the employers responsibility to thoroughly investigate the incident to prevent it from happen again. Accident investigations are critical in discovering the root cause of any accident, as well as to continuously control your workers’ compensation costs. If you did not personally witness the accident, the only way to learn what happened is to conduct interviews with the employees who witnessed it. Interviewing employees can be tricky and asking the right questions will allow you to get a clear view of what actually happened. Below are some tips that will help you get complete, accurate answers from your employees after an accident.
1) Sometimes employees are nervous to answer questions because they fear the blame will be shifted to them. To ease their nerves, explain that you are only trying to get to the bottom of the situation. Try to avoid asking “Why did this happen?” and ask it differently: “What happened? How do you think this happened? And, can you explain what you saw?”
2) To make sure that you, as a supervisor or owner, understand how the accident happened employ the following methods.
• Ask your employees to describe what happened.
• Try to understand the details from every perspective and ask for clarification with “Tell me more”
• Listen and test your comprehension. For example ask, “So, am I correct in understanding that ….?”
• And follow up with, “I think I understand. Can you show me?”
3) It is extremely important to obtain “why” information tactfully. Here are some good, non-leading questions to ask witness employees and the injured worker:
• What did you see? Hear?
• What did you notice first?
• What parts/tool were they using; where did this happen; what postures did the injured employee use; was there job rotation and if so how often?
• Were you working with anyone else?
• What else were you involved in before the injury?
Accident investigations would not be complete without interviewing witness employees and the injured employee. If you have any questions about conducting a successful interview for an accident investigation, or would like more information on how to control your workers’ compensation costs, contact the Flanders Group today.