Have you ever watched those shows on TV where a team of investigators look through small clues and other random evidence to try and piece together what happened at a crime scene? It’s always amazing how they can connect something as random as a half-eaten potato chip to the bank robbery that happened at the beginning of the show.
Pretty much everything that happens during the course of a day has a series of other events connected with it. This is especially true with workplace accidents. Everything from an employee falling off of a ladder to an auto accident has a chain of events leading up to it. Learning what is in that chain of events can help you figure out how and why the accident happened, and also how to keep similar accidents from happening again in the future. Post-Accident Investigations can be extremely valuable in improving your company’s safety program and preventing future accidents.
So what should you look for after an accident? What questions do you need to ask? Each accident is unique, but here are some questions to help you get started:
- Was Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used, and was it used properly?
- Did any mechanical or other safeguards malfunction? Were they bypassed?
- Were safety procedures or warnings ignored?
- Was equipment being used improperly, or was it being used to do something it wasn’t specifically designed for?
- Was poor equipment maintenance to blame?
- Did poor housekeeping play a part in the accident?
- Was distraction or fatigue partly to blame?
- Were warning signs of a potential accident ignored or overlooked?
- Has this type of accident happened before? If so, why did it happen again?
- And finally, what can be done to keep this from happening again?
Post-accident investigations can also be valuable when there is a “near miss” – something that could have been accident, but was prevented or narrowly avoided. Near misses usually have a similar chain of events to learn from.
Even companies with the best safety programs are bound to have an accident sometime. One of the best things to do after is to use the accident as a learning opportunity and an opportunity to improve. When it comes to safety, there is always room for improvement.