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Employee accidents can be caused by lack of safety training and enforcement, failure of equipment, poor safety practices and/or dangerous surroundings. They lead to thousands of workplace accidents every day.
Causes of accidents are broken down into three levels: direct cause, indirect cause and basic cause. A direct cause is the result of physical contact with an object or hazardous substance and is usually the result of one or more unsafe acts, unsafe conditions or both. These unsafe acts and/or conditions are indirect causes, or symptoms. Unsafe acts and conditions are typically traceable to poor management policies and decisions or to environmental factors, which are known as basic causes. By eliminating one or more of the causes, many accidents are preventable. Procedures for managing on-the-job injuries quickly and effectively are key to providing a safe work environment and reducing associated workers compensation insurance claims.
Regardless of the severity of an accident or if there is a near-miss incident or even property damage follow-up acciddent investigations can assist in preventing future accidents in the workplace. Prompt reporting and recording of all injuries is essential. Management should ensure that all employees are aware of the accident/near-miss reporting policy in your workplace.
An accident investigation form should be created to fit your company's specific needs. Inquire with your company's worker's compensation insurance carrier about providing you with an accident investigation form to use or create your own form to meet your company needs.
Accident investigation forms should consist of the following elements and documentation for completing an effective investigation:
- Date and time: Identify accident date/year and the exact time the accident occurred.
- Location: Pinpoint the exact location of the accident, including department and specific location within that department, and create a reference map direction/location identifier if necessary.
- Description of operations: Describe job activity performed by the injured employee and what led to the accident. Explain equipment/tool use and identify how this equipment may have been involved with the accident. If more than one of the same categories of equipment/tool is used for a certain job duty, identify the specific make, model and serial number of equipment/tool used when the accident occurred.
- Description of accident: Describe and review the chain of events that led to the accident, describe the actual accident and what occurred immediately after the accident. Let the employee explain the sequence of events that led to the accident in his or her own words. Document the employees explanation of how and why the accident took place.
- Photographs taken: If need be, take photos of the accident location, equipment failure and process where the accident or incident occurred.
- Interview the employee directly involved with the accident: Respond positively to the accident victim.
- Interview of witnesses: Interview employees working with and around the accident victim to review what they saw and how they interpret how the accident occurred.
- Measurements: If necessary, measure specific equipment and employee proximity to equipment where the accident occurred, e.g. machine guard location, etc.
- Supervisor/management acknowledgement: Confirm that direct supervisors have acknowledged that an accident occurred by having them complete an accident investigation form promptly when the accident occurs. Fulfill management acknowledgement by having the person in charge of safety investigate the accident and ensure that the investigative report is processed/routed to appropriate management chain.
- Medical attention given: Identify if and what type of medical attention has been given following an accident. Confirm who completed the medical treatment and the type of treatment given, e.g. in-house first aid performed, first responders required, outside emergency help required.
- Follow-up recommendations: A summarization of the accident/incident/near-miss identifying suggestions, recommendations and/or mandatory changes to be made per safety director and management should be completed promptly and forwarded to the supervisor where the accident occurred. Document an expected completion date and notify employees direct supervisor of this date to ensure that safety recommendations and/or changes are made to prevent future accidents. Depending upon the accident, such changes can include operations/job function changes and the way a job activity is performed, providing personnel protective safety equipment, repair and/or replacement of equipment/tools, developing a written policy or procedure, training or retraining of employees and/or supervisors, providing safety protective devices on or around machinery or equipment, etc.
The method used for accident investigation provides an important function for preventing future accidents. However, a good safety program encompassing all areas of safety, including accident prevention, should be practiced to prevent accidents from ever occurring.
Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at www.grainger.com/quicktips.
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The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.