How To Improve Your Accident Investigations

October 1, 2018 No Comments

There’s a quick and easy fix any company can do to improve the quality of their accident investigations.  I’ve seen this simple technique dramatically improve the accidents records at three companies.  Is this a magic pill that will turn around a poorly performing safety program?  Maybe! 

In the early 1980’s I was hired to help an air conditioning manufacturer improve their accident record.  I met with their president / owner and explained how much accidents were costing his company.  He became so excited about their poor performance that he decided to require the injured employees’ supervisor to meet with him after each accident to explain what happened and what the supervisor was going to do to prevent it from happening again.  This president was a very powerful man, and no supervisor wanted to be chewed out by him for having an accident.  After a couple of accidents occurred the supervisors got the message that their president really cared about accidents and they’d answer directly to him for any accidents that occurred to their employees!

In 2006 I was the safety director for a manufacturing company.   The top executive (V.P. of Operations) at a poorly performing location came to me and asked what he could do to turn around their accident record.  I told him about the above success story at the air conditioning manufacturer.  He decided to do something similar. 

This VP required the supervisor of any injured employee to schedule a meeting in the VP’s office within 24-hours of the accident.  Attending this accident review meeting were the: VP, supervisor, department head, and the safety manager.   The meeting consisted of the VP asking the supervisor the questions show below.   Once again, the results were immediate with supervisors and department heads soon learning that safety was a top priority of their executive.

  • What is the nature of the employees’ injuries?  How is the employee doing now?
  • Will there be any lost time?  Is light duty being considered to get the injured employee back to work?
  • Review the accident investigation report.  Is it clear and complete?
  • Review digital photographs from the accident.
  • Tell me about the injured employee.  What did he / she say about the accident?
  • Was a post accident drug and alcohol test performed immediately after the accident?  What are the results?
  • Were witnesses interviewed?   What did they say?  Were witness forms completed?
  • Has the accident been reported to the insurance company?
  • Did the accident involve any OSHA violations?
  • What are the causes of this accident?
  • What has been done (or is planned) to address each of these accident causes?
  • Who is responsible for each corrective action?  By when will they be implemented?  What resources do you need me to approve to implement these corrective actions?
  • Is this employee an accident repeater?  If so, what are your plans to stop him / her from having future accidents?
  • When should we meet again to review the status of the corrective action plans?


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