Work place accidents, especially for businesses such as construction, are common place with millions of people a year suffering work place accidents. More concerning statistics also show that several thousand people die every year as a result of work place accidents. It is therefore very important for employers to carry out thorough accident investigations to prevent further accidents happening in the future.
However, these investigations can be time consuming and expensive as they take employees away from their work to complete the investigation. This means that many employers often cut corners in these investigations to get their employees back to work. This method may result in a more productive workforce in the short term but long term more accidents can lead to substantial pay-outs from the employer.
What information is needed
The essential aim of a health and safety investigation is to find out the facts of why the accident occurred and implement new measures to prevent the accident from happening again. The purpose of the report is not to lay blame. You do not need to look into who was at fault in this investigation, the important thing is that investigations are being carried out and new safety measure are being put in place to prevent it happening in the future.
How to carry out a health and safety investigation
Your health and safety investigation should occur as soon as possible after the event. This ensures incident is still fresh in everyone’s mind and the worksite is in the same condition it was in when the accident occurred.
There are 4 main steps you should take in your investigation:
- Background investigation – collect together all the information you have at this point. This will include medical reports, incident reports, employee lists. Use this information to understand the event make a plan for how to go forward.
- Site investigation – get to the site as soon as you can after the incident and restrict access to preserve the scene. Take photos of the scene as it is now and use drawings to map out how the incident happened.
- Interviews – preferably no more than 24 hours after the event identify your witnesses and take their statement. You should do this by using open ended questions and allowing your employee to speak without interruptions. It is also important to reassure the employee that you are not looking to place blame, only to collect information.
- Analysis and reporting – after you have collected all the data you need to look over it to determine the causes and next steps. Remember there could be multiple factors that both directly and indirectly caused the accident.
What accidents need an investigation
Really an accident that results in injury to an employee or damage to property needs an investigation. There are a few accidents that legally require reporting to the MOL, these include the most serious injuries like fatalities, catastrophic injury and occupational illness along with others. Any other accident would be an in house investigation to prevent more serious injuries happening in the future.