26th Oct, 2020 Read time 4 minutes

How to report and investigate workplace accidents thoroughly and accurately

While every company hopes there won’t be any accidents in their workplace, the chances of that happening just aren’t realistic as there is always a possibility of accidents happening regardless of the workplace and the tasks being undertaken by workers.

Taking the time to report and investigate workplace incidents thoroughly can be vital to identifying the factors contributing to that incident, and the steps that can be taken to prevent similar issues in the future.

By reporting and investigating workplace accidents, you are not only safeguarding employees but you are also taking steps to evaluate the legal and financial costs of accidents that occur within your workplace.

Take a look at some steps that are recommended for reporting and investigating workplace accidents:

Act quickly and report the accident

If an accident occurs in the workplace, it’s important to act quickly to get to the bottom of the cause(s). For larger scale accidents, it is recommended that an accident investigation team is created so that they can look further into the issue and begin to understand the causes and implications.

A good accident investigation team may include:

  • Immediate supervisors
  • Employees with knowledge of the work
  • Safety officers
  • Outside experts
  • Representatives from the local government
  • Health and safety committee members
  • Union representatives, if applicable

When an accident occurs, either the person directly involved in the accident or the person’s immediate supervisor must fill out an accident report to record all of the details on how the accident occurred and any resulting injuries.

If the accident is considered serious enough it will need to be reported to local authorities in accordance with statutory laws and regulations. These sorts of accidents include fatalities, injuries requiring hospitalization, chemical exposure requiring immediate medical treatment and major spills, emissions, or any other event that could have a serious environmental impact.


Care for victims and gather information

Once you’ve discovered an accident has occurred, immediately take stock of whether or not employees will need medical attention or any other type of care.

Once employees are tended to, the relevant people should secure the area and begin gathering as much information as possible. To ensure you have as much usable and reliable information as possible, examine the scene and talk to witnesses as quickly as possible as material evidence, and the memories of those involved/who witnessed the incident can change.

You must also be sure to take time to comb through the moments leading up to the time of the accident to try and identify whether or not there were any contributing factors to the accident, or any unsafe behaviours, hazardous conditions or actions that might not have been taken that could have had an impact.


Make a plan and take notes

Once you’ve reported the accident and have conducted a thorough investigation, begin working on a plan your company can implement that will help prevent other issues in the future.

Document the accident in a detailed accident report, as well as every action taken after the accident occurred. When writing up an accident report, be sure to include as much background information as possible to help set the scene, as well as a detailed description of the accident. If there are any significant findings you come across while investigating, note them in your report, as well as your recommendations on how this accident could have been avoided.

Round off the report with a summary of what transpired, any follow-up actions that were performed and finally, attach any photographs, interview notes, videos, etc. that might help explain the situation further.

Safeopedia notes that it’s also important to calculate the costs or even potential costs of an accident or incident and include them in the report. Keep these records for at least three years or the period required by legislation.

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