Steps to an Effective Job Site Incident Investigation
After every incident at a job site, an investigation is vital to uncover safety problems and provide recommendations to correct the issue and prevent the incident from recurring. For your investigation to be efficient and successful, you’ll need to follow the right steps. Below is a step-by-step process for an effective workplace incident investigation. But first, ensure you have installed the necessary access equipment such as step units to enhance your safety during the investigation.
Gather Relevant Information
You should start by obtaining an overview of the situation from the workers directly involved in the incident and other witnesses if any. Interrogate the workers and witnesses separately as soon as possible; do not allow them to confer prior to the interview. It’s normal for people to be reluctant to discuss different incidents, especially if they think they might get in trouble. You need to put them at ease and reassure them you’re only interested in finding facts. Remind them that the information is key to understanding the basics of the situation. Ensure to get a written, signed statement from the workers and witnesses.
Search for and Establish Facts
Next, you need to examine the scene of the incident. Look for scattered or broken parts; spills or leaks; footprints or tire tracks; dents, scrapes, or cracks in equipment; and other factual evidence. Photograph the scenes that may provide more insight to the situation to anyone who was not there. Also, take photographs of any items that will be cleaned up, such as footprints, tire tracks, or spills and leakages. You should also review records to determine whether different processes were conducted as required. Check accident records to determine if the incident was recurring. Check the maintenance records to determine if regular maintenance and relevant recommendations were provided and adhered to. You should also check training records to find out if appropriate training was provided before the task.
Isolate Contributing Factors
Common contributing factors include human behaviour, systems and processes, design, and the environment. Examples of human behaviour factors include fatigue, rushing, and carelessness. Systems and processes factors include housekeeping; lack of, or inappropriate systems and procedures; and training in procedures. Design factors include maintenance, design of tools and equipment, and workplace layout. Environmental factors include light, noise, heat, dust, fumes, and vapours.
Determine the Root Causes
Workplace incidents are almost always caused by multiple causes. Try to identify all the underlying and primary causes of an incident. In the case of a struck-by accident, for instance, in addition to obvious causes such as falling or rolling objects, consider possible causes such as over stacking of shelves and whether the victim had the relevant protection.
Find Corrective Actions
After determining the causes of the incident, you need to determine actions to fix the problem to avoid repeat incidents. Focus on determining expedient actions and those that can solve the issues permanently. Short-term solutions may be cheap and quick, but you’ll not have settled the matter in the long run.
Implement the Recommendations
You should consider implementing corrective actions as soon as possible. Communicate the findings with the workers and the management to ensure they understand what caused the incident and the relevant steps they should take to avoid a repeat incident. You also need to monitor the corrective actions to ensure they are effective in preventing recurrence of similar and related incidents.