A strong safety culture means fewer incidents and accidents. It’s also tied to higher employee morale and employee engagement.
But if an accident happens, that can be a threat to your organization’s positive culture.
One of the best ways to make sure you’re doing all you can to prevent that from happening is to have a thorough and effective incident investigation process. Just because you plan for it, doesn’t mean an accident will happen, but if it does happen, you’ll be prepared.
What should know about how to care for your employees through your incident investigation process.
Who Should Conduct the Incident Investigation?
The first place to start is with the “who.” Management, union reps, and members of the safety committee are most commonly involved. In cases involving a fatality, legal counsel may be present.
When Should the Incident Investigation Take Place?
So that you can prevent injuries and illnesses from recurring in the future, you want to be able to get as much data as you can, right away, after any incident. The goal should be to make sure the investigation happens as soon as possible.
Make sure the incident scene has not been changed or altered and capture what workers and witnesses report happened before time has passed and they forget or are tempted to change their story. In iReportSource, you can easily (and immediately) log and track any near-miss or incident. That way, your data is both accurate and actionable.
What Should the Investigation Include?
Your investigation should include any and all injuries, incidents or near-misses that have been reported. You’ll want to be sure to document this process, including:
- Who was involved in the participation
- Incidents investigated
- Information that has been collected
- Causal factors
- Corrective actions
- How you will be tracking those corrective actions (1)
The kind of information you collect is going to include, at minimum:
- Characteristics of the worker
- Description of injury
- Description and sequence of events
- Description of the work being performed
- Factors connected with the time or phase of the worker’s day
- Characteristics of any equipment involved
- Characteristics of surrounding work environment
- Supervisory information
- Events that were contributing to the incident
- Immediate measures taken
- Longer-term actions that are necessary (2)
What Are the Steps In An Incident Investigation?
In simple terms, you want to be as prepared as possible before any injury, incident or illness happens.
Provide adequate training, education and even tools to support workers so they how to react and respond if an incident happens.
You’ll want a formalized process for reporting incident and injuries. You’ll also want to be sure employees have the tools (and confidence) to be able to report near-misses or accidents. Forms or technology that will aid in the investigation process should be readily available or accessible by all workers.
When it comes to the investigation itself, documentation and note-taking is where the focus should be. You can document conditions and the above characteristics by taking photos, recording video and audio, and writing notes.
Next are the interviews. This is one of the best ways to seek to answer: “Why did this happen?” Asking open-ended questions, with lots of follow up questions to clarify details, will help you gather crucial facts.
The last two steps include the analysis of data and the development of your report which will identify and share root causes. It also includes sharing action steps for what will be done to address those underlying issues (2).
What Recommendations Should the Report Include?
With all the information you’ve collected, you are now able to analyze the information and present and communicate your report.
At minimum, that report is going to include:
- The issues related to the incident
- Issues that could be related to other situations or conditions
- Any deficiencies that were discovered
- Controls and prevention actions
- Follow-up actions and procedures (2)
Be sure corrective actions have a person who is responsible (or accountable) for each action being implemented or completed. Ideally, there is also a similar structure in place for continuous improvement, too.
Now that you have a report that helps to identify and fix (or at least eliminate) hazards, be sure to give that information to all people involved in the investigation. If you have a union, they should also receive copies of your report (2).
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