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Supervisor's Accident Investigation

When an accident occurs it is an indication that something has gone wrong. Accidents do not just happen, they are caused.

It is important to investigate all accidents to determine the causes and then take corrective action to assure that they will not be repeated.

Underlying causes of practically any accident are "unsafe acts" and/or "unsafe conditions".  Most accidents involve a combination of causes, involving both environmental and behavioristic factors. The chart attached with this document provides a guide to the identification of accident causes and suggests corrective action to eliminate or control them.

When you investigate an accident, keep these things in mind:

  • Every accident has a cause. Carelessness is not a cause, but is often the result of some deficiency. Telling employees to be more careful will not eliminate the real accident causes.
  • 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.
  • Most accidents result from a combination of human error and a physical hazard. Do not overlook the possibility of multiple errors and hazards. Find and remove all contributing causes.
  • Do not stop at the obvious answer. For example, a missing machine guard does not cause an accident; its function is to help prevent injury if an accident happens. The accident happened because the operator entered the point of operation. Find out why the operator did this, and why the guard was off. Only by correcting both problems can you be reasonably sure of preventing the next accident.
  • 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 in, or witnessed, the incident.

Once you have determined what causes contributed to the accident, make suitable recommendations for corrective action to prevent recurrences.