Accident Investigations & Causal Analysis

Accident investigations should be a critical part of loss control. An accident investigation, when performed correctly, can enhance safety and reduce costs. Property damage and downtime resulting from accidents cost companies up to 50 times more than the workers’ compensation. The majority of organizations don’t track these costs specifically. But what is an accident investigation and what is its purpose.

What is an accident investigation?

An accident investigation is a systematic collection of information and analysis of the facts leading up to the incident including what occurred during the incident.

What is the purpose of an accident investigation?

Often, the purpose of an investigation is understanding what happened. The best accident investigation should also include root cause analysis. The root cause is an in-depth study of why the accident happened; Not just what happened.

Why is a complete accident investigation vital to improving the work environment?

By understanding the root cause or causes, recommendations and corrective actions can be taken to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. These recommendations are not generalized but target a specific area in need of improvement.

Accident Investigation with Causal Analysis, an Example:

A forklift was driven by a newly hired worker in a warehouse. The forklift spins out of control and crashes, destroying property and injuring another worker. An investigation is conducted.

The investigation starts by finding the what. What happened?  The brakes on the forklift were bad causing the forklift to spin out of control when the operator was driving too fast, leading to the operator losing control when he wasn’t able to slow down.

Many companies stop here. They fix the brakes and move forward. Without fulling understanding why, the same conditions are likely to reoccur and will lead to another accident. Why were the brakes bad? Why hadn’t they been fixed? Why was the operator driving too fast?

After further investigation, they found that the brakes had not been checked in some time because there was no regular maintenance schedule. The operator was driving too fast but after interviewing workers, there was no consensus on an actual speed limit in the facility. Additionally, their company training had no specific speed limit or facility rules outlined.

After finding out why these errors occurred, the company implemented a maintenance program with specific procedures on how frequently the forklift would receive maintenance and the standards for correcting any unsafe conditions. The operator training was updated to outline facility specific rules for safe operation of the forklift. The speed limit was posted throughout the facility as a reminder to operators and limits were installed on the forklifts. By making these changes, they have improved their safety program and reduced the probability of having the same type of accident occur again.

Accident Investigations with ReSolve

ReSolve provides accident investigations with causal analysis and recommendations to give clients not only a full understanding of why the accident occurred but what can be done to prevent the accident from reoccurring. For more information, contact us.

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