The Importance of Incident Investigations

Print a Sign-In SheetSpanish Version Coming Soon

OSHA strongly encourages employers to investigate all incidents in which a worker was hurt (i.e., accidents), as well as “near misses”, in which a worker might have been hurt if the circumstances had been slightly different. Investigating a workplace incident provides employers and workers the opportunity to identify hazards in their operations and shortcomings in their safety programs.

OSHA defines an accident as an unplanned, unexpected, and not purposefully caused event which occurs suddenly and causes injury or loss, decreased value in resources, and increased liabilities.

Why do you investigate a workplace incident?

  • To find the “root cause” of an accident so you can prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
  • To fulfill any legal requirements.
  • To determine compliance with OSHA standards.
  • To determine the cost of an incident/accident.
    • Direct costs may include medical expenses and indemnity payments.
    • Indirect costs may include increased absenteeism, scheduling delays, added administrative time, repairing property damage, and training a replacement worker.
  • To help your workers’ compensation insurance company process the claim.

Make sure you do not place employee blame for the accident or make statements such as “employee did not follow safety procedures” or “the worker was careless.” The investigation should not hamper workplace morale and decrease productivity.

It is important to look at all contributing factors to determine the cause and, if a shortcoming is identified, to ask why it existed or was not previously addressed.

KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.