How to Handle the Accident Investigation

Interviewing the Injured Employee/Witness

  1. Interview the injured employee without delay, but with care. Do not question an upset individual who has just been injured or is in emotional shock. Wait until the person calms down or the physician or nurse indicates that it is OK to talk with the person.
  2. Take careful notes. The date, time, comments, placement of equipment, and any other important information must be recorded. These records could help reduce expensive compensation claims.
  3. Emphasize prevention of future accidents and not faultfinding. This will help put the employee at ease.
  4. Interview any witnesses and the injured employee at the scene of the accident, if possible.
  5. Ask for the employee's version of the accident. Let the employee tell the story without interruption.
  6. Ask as many questions as you feel necessary. Avoid any "why" questions at this point, as they tend to make an employee defensive.
  7. Repeat the employee's story as you understand it. This assures that you understand what the employee said and it allows the employee to correct the story, if necessary.
  8. Close the interview on a positive note - prevention of further accidents. This reaffirms the purpose of the interview and sets the tone for the rest of your investigation.
  9. If any equipment was involved in the accident be sure to identify the piece of equipment by serial number or other identifying manner.

Assessing Conditions

  1. Unsafe practices - check for a departure from a normal, correct procedure.
  2. Unsafe conditions - check for physical defect, errors in design, faulty planning or not recognizing safety requirements.
  3. Environmental factors - note the relationship of the employee and the environment of his/her work place such as weather conditions.
  4. Placement of controls - note controls on equipment and how they are identified.
  5. Ineffective lighting - note lighting conditions that could cause problems.
  6. Source of the accident - examine the source of the accident, e.g. what tool, material, or equipment was involved? Pinpoint the corrective actions that are needed. (Serial number may be needed.)
  7. Type of accident - note the manner in which the person was injured, e.g. falling, being struck by an object or by getting caught between moving equipment.
  8. Part(s) of the body affected - identify what part(s) of the body have incurred injury.
  9. The personal factor - consider factors regarding the injured person that may have been the reason for the accident. Note any unsafe action or practice such as a lack of knowledge of the safe practice, disregard of instructions, emotional upset, or a physical handicap.

Reporting the Accident

  1. All accidents should be reported. No matter how minor the incident, a simple written report including who, what, when, why, and how an accident occurred should to be completed on all injuries. This will help identify hazards and prevent future injuries.
  2. The immediate supervisor should conduct the investigation and complete the report.
  3. The report should be completed during the shift that the accident occurred, or the shift during which the accident is reported.
  4. The report should include information gathered from interviewing the injured employee and note any unsafe practices and/or unsafe conditions.
  5. When completing the report, keep in mind its purpose is:
    • To determine the causes of the injury.
    • To learn from the mistakes that happen -- taking suitable corrective steps can prevent recurrence.
    • To gather information so ClearPath Mutual can determine if the claim is compensable.
    • To prevent legal action and make sure that the claim is compensable under the law.