Whenever an accident occurs on the job, whether an injury results or not, it’s essential to get to the root causes to help prevent something similar from occurring in the future. There are many benefits to this approach, as it protects the health and safety of your employees, reduces damage and downtime due to accidents, eliminates additional repair costs, and helps keep your worker’s compensation premiums under control.
Gathering Information and Avoiding Blame
While a cursory evaluation of an accident may seem to point to an obvious cause, it’s important to gather as much information as possible and avoid assigning blame until the entire investigation has been completed. Potential sources of information include:
- Injured employee
- Eye witnesses
- Surveillance video
- Photos taken after the accident
- Inspection of the equipment involved
- Inspection of the accident site
Until you have all of this information in front of you and can go through it in a methodical and analytical way, it’s hard to get a sense of the larger set of circumstances that may have contributed to the accident. Without that understanding, you can’t come up with a meaningful and effective solution.
Getting Below the Surface
To really get to the root causes of a work injury, you have to keep asking questions even when you think you’ve gotten a reasonable answer. For instance, it’s easy to say that an employee injured themselves because they weren’t paying attention or they were being careless, but you need to go deeper if you want to really understand the broader circumstances that contributed to the accident.
The best way to do this is to ask “why?” at every opportunity. Why was the worker distracted or rushing? Why were they using the equipment improperly? Were they trained on how to use it properly, and if not, why? Once you have an answer to one of these questions, ask another and another until you get to something you can address directly.
Just because you’ve uncovered one root cause doesn’t mean you should stop your analysis either. Most accidents have more than one underlying circumstance that contributed to the outcome, and so stopping at one will leave potentially dangerous situations intact. This is why it’s important to gather information from as many sources as possible, and also why you should refrain from drawing conclusions until you’ve exhausted all avenues of analysis.
If you’d like to learn more about how to keep your workplace a safe and productive environment, as well as how the suite of business insurance policies we offer can contribute to your company’s long-term financial stability, contact our offices today.