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You get a phone call in the middle of the night.

Knowing the number, your heart instantly sinks. You feel your heart racing.

It can only be one thing…

Someone has been injured on your job site.

Getting a call and hearing about a workplace injury is devastating, and it changes you forever.

It’s just as heartbreaking and challenging for the family of anyone who has been hurt  or injured, no matter the severity.

Despite an emotionally-charged environment, you’re the one who needs to make sure the incident reporting and investigation process is handled the right way.

You know how significant this entire process is to preventing future injuries. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at 4 mistakes that are common to incident investigations, and how you can avoid them.

1. Forgetting an important interview

Incident investigations rely on having data to help explain why something happened. In general, more data is going to help you know more about root causes. Date, time, and location are the basics, but environmental conditions, key circumstances and factors, the state of equipment and details about the environment are also all important. All these pieces of data are going to be part of the thorough report you eventually create.

It’s one thing to be able to capture all that information, including pictures, audio, and interviews, but don’t forget to get information right from the source…that is, anyone directly involved in the incident.

For whatever reason, people can forget to interview injured workers. In some cases, they may be getting medical attention, but once they are safe, make sure you capture all you can.

Do your best to record their name, a detailed description of their injury, if they are an employee, contract worker, temporary/permanent worker, circumstances around the incident, and more. Was there another witness nearby? Speak to them as well.

To avoid making this mistake, consider using a framework or guided process (such as a pre-written questionnaire) to make sure you capture as much data as possible at this point in the process.

2. Jumping to conclusions

The goal is to find procedures, practices, design/organization issues, or systematic issues or other factors that contributed to the unsafe environment. Even if you have a hunch as you collect data, don’t make the mistake of jumping to any sort of conclusion about what may have caused the incident.

As you collect data to use later on to determine the cause, you need to avoid investigator bias or any kind of mindset that could misrepresent the information you are collecting.

You’re looking to find the underlying cause of the incident, so you have to focus on keeping an open mind as you dig deep for details. Not only will it help you capture meaningful, trustworthy data, but it will help show how you aren’t seeking to find fault or blame.

3. Failure to share your report

It’s all too common for employers to fail to share findings and even the resulting corrective actions with workers. Unfortunately, this can appear as if management is being secretive, and it can contribute to feelings of mistrust.

In other cases, it can appear that safety isn’t being taken seriously, even if the incident was investigated thoroughly.

In contrast, when you share the report of your findings and/or corrective actions with all your workers, you actively involve them in improving safety. In doing so, you continue to reinforce how you want them to feel open and comfortable with sharing near-misses, hazards, or other issues they see.

After all, they already know a mistake or incident of some kind occurred. By including them in the process, you’re showing you really do trust them and value their contributions and participation in safety.

4. Failure to investigate near misses

Many companies lack a process or lack the discipline for investigating near-misses, even though they tell us so much information we can take advantage of to prevent future incidents. Just as you need to have a procedure in place for any accident, close calls should also result in an investigation.

Prevent Injuries with Your Incident Reporting & Investigation Process

No process will ever be perfect, but you can do your best to avoid these missteps. Incident and near-miss investigations are so important since they prevent injuries and illnesses. At the end of the day, it’s the company’s duty and obligation, but more importantly, they save money, improve leadership, and they save lives.

Accident Prevention Starts with iReportSource

Avoiding common mistakes like these will help you look beyond what happened so that you can know why something happened, and how you can prevent it from happening again. Learn more about how iReportSource will help you capture and act on potential hazards, safety suggestions, near misses, and incident reports: schedule a demo today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html
  2. https://www.osha.gov/dte/IncInvGuide4Empl_Dec2015.pdf
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