Four Key Strategies for Safety Leadership in Accident Investigation

Posted by
Lance Roux
on Feb 20, 2014

Do you want to prevent serious injuries in your workplace? As a safety leader, you have to create an environment where your workers are aware of the risks of serious injury that are present in the workplace and guide them towards determining reliable solutions to mitigate those risks. 
When there is a near-miss or accident that did not result in serious injury, the accident investigation team may recommend some administrative or PPE controls to prevent a future injury.  However, as the safety leader, your job is to push them beyond that by recognizing the true nature of the risk and creating a corrective action plan that will address it in the most behaviorally reliable way possible. To do this, safety leaders have to push corrective actions for safety exposures up the Hierarchy of Controls.
Here are four strategies that will help you do this:
  1. Training. Your accident investigation team should be able to recognize hazards that have the potential to cause serious injuries and to identify potential remedies. This means looking beyond the facts of what happened to exploring what might have happened.  You should provide ongoing training to help them develop this skill.
  2. Create detailed and compelling accident report narratives. When an incident did not result in the worst case scenario, but had the potential to, this needs to be included in the accident report. The more detailed  and complete the narrative is, the easier it will be to recognize the potential exposures and develop effective corrective actions to prevent it in the future.
  3. Keep track of near-misses.  Keeping track of near-misses makes the risks that are present in the workplace more visible. As safety leaders, we want to eliminate exposures to risk, both those that caused a serious injury and those that had potential to cause a serious injury.
  4. Participate in the investigation process. Question decisions and corrective actions recommended in accident investigations.  Were higher order controls considered? Are there more reliable ways to address the risks long term? Make sure your accident investigators go beyond easy solutions.

Conducting safety audits and safety training is also essential to maintain safety throughout your workplace and building sites.

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Tags: Safety Management, Accident Investigation

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