Investigating incidents to improve future safety outcomes

Mar 16, 2023
Written by WR Communications

Following a workplace accident, determining its cause, and making proactive changes can help prevent future accidents.

Before businesses can address safety issues, they must be aware of them. An effective accident investigation program should include an open-door policy that encourages personnel to report any concerns, including injuries, hazards, near-misses, and suggestions for improvement. Creating a culture of open communication provides opportunities to correct minor problems before they escalate into more significant issues.

Employers must conduct investigations and notify DOSH (Department of Occupational Safety and Health) within 8 hours of an employee’s workplace fatality or in-patient hospitalization. Additionally, employers must report non-hospitalized amputations or loss of an eye of any employee to DOSH within 24 hours. L&I provides additional information here.

A thorough accident investigation should explore all aspects relating to incidents of injury, including each step of the incident:

  • Why did the action make sense to the employee?
  • How did training (or lack of it) impact each step?
  • How did communication (or lack of it) impact each step?
  • How did planning (or lack of) affect each step?
  • What procedures (or lack of) affected each step?
  • Did the employee take ownership of their role in the accident?
  • Did management take ownership of their role?

Once the cause of an incident has been identified, corrective actions need to be taken to help prevent similar incidents from recurring. Corrective actions could include modifying processes or procedures, implementing new safety measures, or providing additional training or resources to staff.

Finally, updating training materials and procedures to reflect any new understanding or insights gained from the investigation is vital. Doing so can help ensure that all future staff members are well-equipped to prevent similar incidents and are aware of necessary safety measures and protocols.

See an Incident Report template example here.

Our safety team is available to help members take their safety program from compliance to quality safety practices. Contact us 360-943-9198 x122, or [email protected] to learn more.


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