AN ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION PRIMER

Webster, defines “accident” as “an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and results in injury, damage, or loss.”

Accidents cost the construction industry hundreds of lives, thousands of injuries, and hundreds of millions in lost profits, year in, year out.

Whenever there’s an accident in your workplace or on the job site, it’s essential to conduct a thorough and comprehensive inquiry. Bear in mind that goal of this investigation should not be to lay blame for the mishap, but to determine what happened – and why – in order to prevent it from recurring.

Whoever you put in charge of the investigation should:

  1. Get to the accident site of as rapidly as possible; Make sure the area is safe to enter and that the victim gets any emergency medical treatment immediately.
  2. Record evidence, use a camera and film (or smart phone with a date and time stamp), audio recorder, pen and notebook (to do interviews or make sketches), measuring tape, and specimen containers for hazardous substances (if needed). Be sure to include copies of accident report forms and checklists.
  3. Find witnesses and find out what happened by asking the six key questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Interview everyone involved and ask about possible factors (the supervisor’s orders, training levels, type of equipment, working conditions, etc.) Don’t blame the worker involved, even if he or she takes responsibility for the incident.
  4. Document every aspect of the investigation, using the accident report form.
  5. Do not release the report without management approval (to protect the privacy of those involved).

Finally, be sure to review the results of every accident investigation at your next safety meeting.

An ounce of prevention …

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