Making the Most of an Accident Investigation

Making the Most of an Accident Investigation

19th June 2018

With 2018’s Safety and Health Expo upon us (it’s being held at London’s Excel from 19 – 21 June), today we’re going to take a look at how your construction company can make the most of any accident investigations.  While an accident in the workplace is something to be avoided at all costs, when one does occur, the investigation process can be seen as an opportunity to improve operations and put policies and processes in place to minimise the risk of a similar occurrence in future. 

In the event of an accident, the first thing to do is obviously to deal with the accident, administering first aid where necessary and isolate the area, preserving the scene of the incident and keeping people away until the area has been made safe again.

In the wake of an accident (or other undesired event), an accident investigation must be carried out but this should not be in the form of a box ticking exercise to show that lessons have been taken on board, but not necessarily learned.  In the construction industry, in particular, a client may ask a construction company to do an investigation report and this may take the following form.  The construction company looks at the basic reasons that the accident or event occurred and determine that an employee needs more training.  The accident investigation passes the report to the client and that’s it. 

However, there may be more difficult questions that need answering after the accident, questions that should be asked and then used to take a detailed look at the events leading to the incident and immediately after the incident that may find problems that should be addressed in order to raise the safety levels on site and throughout an organisation or business as a whole.

One way to maximise the benefits of investigations is to create a fair-blame culture within the company.  This means that when people have or cause an accident, they are not necessarily punished for doing so, even in cases where rules were contravened (often with good intentions). 

Creating a blame free environment means a fairer culture which will result in people being more willing to provide information.  It will also mean that those at fault will be able to own up to their mistakes  without worrying that they will face being sacked from their jobs for making the mistake.  People will also feel empowered to report immediately when things go wrong, safe in the knowledge that they will be fairly judged, which will lead to more people volunteering information that is vital to improve health and safety at work. 

For companies that want some tips on creating a blame free culture in the workplace, we’ll be publishing another article next week with information on the best ways to go about doing so.  If you don’t want to miss out on the vital information your construction company needs to improve health and safety, why not follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get a heads up on when the information is available?