Accident Investigation & Record Keeping

Accident Investigation & Record Keeping bb3 Sep 8, 2011

By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

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Every business should have a procedure for investigating and analyzing accidents. Regardless of the company, the product involved, or the service rendered, there will always be accidents and near misses.

Recording and analyzing losses allows for identification of specific areas, jobs, or accident types to improve the operation and correct adverse patterns.

Learn to develop a loss prevention program for your business.

Your organization needs to have one person in charge of record keeping and to regularly analyze these losses.

Accident investigations are usually best handled by the immediate supervisor involved. We recommend that all incidents be investigated, including "near misses." Near misses actually forecast serious injuries. Employees should be taught to report all unsafe acts or conditions to their supervisors, even if no accident occurs.

As a first order of business, investigations should be made as soon as possible after the accident, and it should be made clear that investigations are "fact finding," not "fault finding." This approach is essential to an open and cooperative response. Developing this data in this form allows management to have an additional means for measuring the overall effectiveness of the loss control program.

If the investigation is to be a meaningful part of your total loss analysis, it must distinguish between symptoms and causes. This can best be demonstrated by example:

  • Description of Accident: Employee fell
  • Unsafe Condition(s): Water spill on floor
  • Unsafe Act(s): Employee failed to clean up spill, or was inattentive
  • Correction: Cleaned up spill (or instructed employee to be more attentive)

The limitations of these types of conclusions are serious. It completely overlooks root causes, such as: How long was the spill overlooked? Why wasn't the supervisor alerted? Are spills a chronic problem? If so, what is the source? Personnel responsible for your accident investigation should be trained to avoid these limitations.

Accident records must help identify:

  • Accident causes
  • Accident costs
  • Corrective measures

All investigations should be summarized in a written report as outlined below.

  • Name of injured employee, date, and time of accident
  • Worker's occupation/department/job name, and other personal data (or description of equipment, material, etc., in the case of property damage)
  • Nature of injury or damage
  • Location of accident
  • Description of what happened
  • Analysis of why it happened, including contributory or indirect causes
  • Recommendations on what should be done to prevent reoccurrences
  • Action taken to date and action planned for future
  • Follow-up notes

NOTE: A written incident investigation procedure should be included as part of your loss control program. This procedure should supply the information necessary for the proper documentation and follow-up of internal incident investigations. The purpose of a written operating procedure is to ensure that every incident which has the potential or has actually produced a loss (either human and/or material) is investigated so that preventative action can be taken.