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5 essential steps to efficiently manage accidents in your organization

Managing your health and safety processes and programs is about avoiding accidents and unfortunate incidents. Despite the good intentions and all the precaution taken by your teams, no one is immune to an accident at the workplace.

If you have to manage an accident or an incident, here are five essential steps to be followed in order to effectively manage and to follow up on the accident:

  1. Reporting
  2. Investigation
  3. Analysis
  4. Corrective measures
  5. Lessons learned

1. Reporting

When an accident occurs, the first step is to report it.

What should be reported? In this article, we will refer to the CSA Z1005-17 – Incident investigation thereby:

Incident — an occurrence, condition, or situation arising in the course of work that resulted in, or could have resulted, in injuries, illnesses, damage to health, or fatalities.

2. Investigation

The second step in the management of accidents and incidents is investigation. Investigation of accidents helps to identify the occurrence, causes and circumstances that led to the accident. An investigation is done by qualified inspectors who are chosen by the company due to their ability to analyze complex situations. The duration of such investigations can greatly vary owing to the complexity of the situations that need to be analyzed. The decision to undertake an investigation is a corporate decision based on its risk tolerance level.

An accident investigation results in the drafting of a report. It includes:

  • description of facts associated with the accident;
  • description of the consequences suffered;
  • analysis of the causes of the accident;
  • corrective measures proposed to rectify hazardous situations and, if needed, recommendations.

During the course of the investigation, the inspectors will look for facts that contributed to the accident. The list given below provides research leads in order to establish the facts associated with the accident:

Contributing factors

Technical Environment

  • Type of technology used
  • Production planning
  • Production organization
  • Type of process
  • Production process stage
  • Map of the work place
  • Model of the workstation and environment conditions
  • Equipment, machines and/or tools used
  • Material used
  • Personal protection equipment
  • Physical hazards
  • Environmental factors
  • Quality control
  • Other types of inspections

Work organization

  • Workstation: capacity, tasks to be completed
  • Salary structure (bonus, production)
  • Schedule
  • Experience at the workstation and in the company
  • Training and level of education
  • Type of employment
  • Teamwork
  • Supervision at the time of the accident
  • Communications
  • Type of prevention management
  • Socio-demographic characteristics
  • Pace of work at the time of the accident
  • Work culture, norms and attitudes in the work environment
  • Decision making process
  • Instruction / regulations / safe working procedures, policies

Guiding principles for investigation of accidents

During an investigation of an accident or an incident, certain guiding principles should be applied by the inspectors.

The following is the list of the principles:

  • Put emphasis on prevention.
  • Look for facts rather than culprits.
  • Promise and respect confidentiality.
  • Consult the people.
  • Communicate the results of the investigation.
  • Have a systematic approach towards fact finding.
  • Ensure that all the people involved in the investigation are trained.

During investigation, the principle sources of information for the inspectors are:

  • Eyewitness statements.
  • Evidence obtained from the accident site.
  • Point of view of people with experience.
  • User manuals and instructions.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers
  • Standards like: ISO, CSA, ANSI, ASTM, etc.
  • Laws and regulations concerning health and safety.
  • Previous reports on accidents and hazards.
  • Other files and reports.
  • List of purchases, maintenance schedules or information on guarantees.

Finally, the investigation is concluded by drafting a list of factors that need to be analyzed by the inspectors

3. Analysis

The third step consists of analyzing facts and questioning them in order to ascertain their role in the accident.

Accident analysis tools are in fact analytical techniques applied to information on accidents in order to obtain a general overview of all the associated facts. The criterion for selecting your accident analysis tool should be based on the following list of prerequisites:

  • Make a chronological and systematic list of all the deviations noted in the process associated with the accident;
  • Present a list and a description of contributing factors relevant to the sequence of events of the accident ;
  • Determine the preventive measures required to prevent similar accidents ;
  • Be standardized so as to enable different users to arrive at similar conclusions using the same data.

Once completed, the analysis of the accident is recorded in the accidents register. For more information and for details on this subject, consult our article “Record accidents and illnesses: What to record, why and how?

4. Corrective measures

Following the investigation and analysis of facts, conclusions can be drawn regarding the causes of the accident. This is the stage where corrective and preventive measures are put in place in order to ensure that future accidents and similar incidents do not take place.

It is the right time for your team to organize a meeting to resolve the problems. This meeting will enable you to examine the information regarding the accident and to choose the necessary corrective and preventive measure that can be put in place. This meeting should involve safety professionals, technical staff as well as representatives of your health and safety committee.

This meeting is of great importance since it allows one to identify and plan:

  • The areas where corrective measures are required.
  • The efficiency of the different preventive measures to be put in place.
  • Priorities.
  • Schedule.

The resulting investigation report will help raise awareness among employers and workers regarding the hazards present in the work environment and the means to eliminate and monitor them. The report is thus an excellent preventive tool.

5. Lessons learned

Irrespective of the consequences it entails, an accident is an unfortunate incident and nobody in the organization wishes it to recur. It is therefore necessary for a good accident management to retain the lessons learned from such an experience and to, most importantly, communicate these lessons to all the members of your organization locally and globally.

Good communication of the lessons learned allows you to share the lessons learnt and the solutions adopted with the rest of the organization. Moreover, it will enable your team to identify the problems faced by others and evaluate your situation in order to quickly rectify potential deviations.

In conclusion, management of accidents and incidents at work is primordial in order to ensure a follow-up on accidents and especially to …

  • Avoid the repetition of expensive incidents.
  • Avoid the absence of qualified personnel who are indispensable for the success of your organization.
  • Avoid delays in the delivery of products and services to your clients.
  • Avoid projecting a negative image of your organization.

Finally, it is to your advantage to use a computerized system that will manage the process mentioned above. The advantages of accident management with the help of an event management software such as CONFORMiT are numerous.

  • Accelerate the reporting process with the help of mobile and web applications.
  • Reduce delays in reporting and avoid penalties related to delay in reporting accidents.
  • Reduce the reaction time to problematic situations by quickly implementing solutions.
  • Reduce delays in communication between the different levels of the organization in order to ensure that solutions are implemented quickly.
  • Reduce the time necessary for the creation of management dashboards for accidents and incidents.

Visit this page for more information on the management of accidents and incidents with the CONFORMiT software.