Ross Electric - Celebrating 40 Years of Continuous Quality in Colorado

ACCIDENT INVESTIGATIONS (Safety Topic for July 26, 1999)

When an accident occurs, management is responsible for determining both how and why it happened. The best way to determine these variables is to conduct a complete investigation of the circumstances surrounding the accident.

It is not the point of the accident investigation to place blame on the workers. Instead, the purpose of the investigation is twofold: 1) to collect the facts surrounding the accident by analyzing any hazardous conditions and by determining the actions or inactions that led to the accident; and 2) to learn from the accident in order to prevent similar accidents in the future. A thorough accident investigation includes a detailed investigation of every work injury and its causes, a study or analysis of the causes of the accident, and a recommendation for corrective action based on the information that has been compiled.

The first purpose of the accident investigation is to collect the facts. One way we collect these facts is by determining what unsafe conditions contributed to the accident. These conditions can include one or more of the following: missing or inadequate guards, defective tools or equipment, inadequate design or construction, poor planning, unsafe illumination, improper clothing, and inadequate ventilation. Another way we collect facts is by examining the work practices that have contributed to the accident. Workers may have been negligent in their activities, may have been participating in horseplay, or may not have been aware that the way in which they performed the job was hazardous. Additionally, workers may not have been mentally or physically prepared to do the job in a safe manner.

The second purpose is to prevent similar accidents in the future. Accidents are investigated to rid the workplace of hazards and safety ignorance, and to promote safety awareness throughout the work area. A worker may unknowingly perform an unsafe act because he or she knows no other way of performing a job or because he or she has not received proper training. The result of the accident investigation must be some corrective action that will assist in preventing future accidents. This may come in the form of 1) education and training for workers on how to perform their jobs in a correct and safe manner, 2) repairing the defective or damaged equipment that caused the accident, and 3) improving working conditions with better lighting, ventilation, etc. Cooperation between management and workers is essential both during the investigation and when implementing the improvements.

SAFETY REMINDER If you see someone working unsafely., stop him or her at once and demonstrate the proper way to perform the task.

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