How to Investigate Workplace Accidents

How to Investigate Workplace Accidents


If you’re a manager or a business owner, odds are that you’re going to have to deal with an employee having an accident at some point or another. It’s true that most workplace accidents are avoidable. But in the event that one occurs, you will need to investigate it. More importantly, you will want to do the investigation properly.

There are benefits to doing so. As such, you shouldn’t think of it as something that costs time. Over the long-run, doing a thorough investigation every time there is an accident at your workplace will save you time and money.

For one, it’s good for employee morale. It shows that the organization is taking concerns about their health and well-being seriously. That can lead to increased productivity and less turnover.

In the bigger picture, and in the modern information age, companies want to be known for treating their employees well. Disgruntled former employees can easily take to social media to tell the whole world that your company treated them poorly when they got hurt on the job. The perception that a company hasn’t handled an injury or fatality well can cause permanent harm to a company’s brand and reputation.

Then there’s the direct costs. Preventing injuries can save tens of thousands of dollars and preventing a fatality can save over $1 million.

To do an investigation correctly, make sure the focus of it is not to blame the employee for reckless or dangerous behavior or not doing their job. In other words, if the end result of your organization’s investigations is employees being written up, you’re doing it wrong. That will also make it more difficult to obtain employees’ cooperation for future investigations and may even open you up to lawsuits and other liabilities. Instead, what you want to determine is the root causes of the accident.

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you need to block off access to the incident site to preserve evidence. Keep detailed accounts of all witnesses who were present at the time. Make sure you take pictures and videos.

For the video, provide narration, descriptions and context of the location. You will want to take multiple pictures from different angles.

Sketches can also be useful means of documenting what happened. They can also come in handy during the interviews process.

Do the interviews of witnesses as soon as possible. Employees could and should be able to have a union representative present for the interviews.

If they are comfortable with it, you may want to record the interviews for the sake of more accurate documentation.

Investigations should be a cooperative process involving employees and management. It’s important that there be good relationships and a basis of trust between all involved. Employees need to feel comfortable providing information to management and the company will be better off if that is the case.

The end result of the investigation needs to be the answers to a series of questions. What did we learn? What can we, as an organization, learn from this experience? What could we have done better? What steps will be taken in the future to make sure that this kind of incident does not happen again?

Remember—an investigation is a form of fact finding so that corrective actions can be determined and put into place. If you do it right, that’s exactly what it will become.

If you need any more information, you can contact the highly trained staff at ABI Insurance.

ABI Insurance carries commercial insurance. Its team of qualified professionals are fully equipped to help you manage risks and ensure that your business is protected and you’re covered in the event that anything happens.


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