Accident/Incident/Near Miss Investigation
One of the best ways to avoid further accidents is to understand how an
accident occurred and how to avoid that type of accident in the future. The
accident investigation is a tool. The goal is not to lay blame.
The goal in an accident investigation is to:
An accident, a near miss and an incident should all be investigated.
- Accident investigations are a tool for uncovering hazards that either were
missed earlier or require new controls (policies, procedures or personal
- Near-miss reporting and investigation identify and control safety or health
hazards before they cause a more serious incident.
- Incident investigations should focus on prevention.
ACCIDENT — an undesired event or sequence of events causing injury, ill-health
or property damage.
NEAR MISS — near misses describe incidents where, given a slight shift in time
or distance, injury, ill-health or damage easily could have occurred, but
didn?t this round.
INCIDENT — an incident is an unplanned, undesired event that hinders
completion of a task and may cause injury or other damage.
- Conduct an investigation as soon as possible following the event to gather
all the necessary facts, determine the true causes of the event, and develop
recommendations to prevent a recurrence.
- Get there as quickly as possible.
- Ensure area is safe to enter.
- Make sure injured person has first-aid or medical attention required.
- Look for witnesses.
- Record the scene with photos (ideally date and time printed) or sketches.
- Safeguard any evidence.
- Establish what happened.
Equipment that may come in handy:
- Pens and notebook
- Measuring tape
- Specimen containers
- Camera and film
- Tape recorder and cassettes
- Copies of accident report forms, checklists
- Telephone numbers
- Personal protective equipment
The investigation should answer six questions:
Interview all people involved. Look for all the causes. Do not fall into the
trap of blaming the employee or volunteer, even if the person admits causing
the event. Investigate the procedures, supervisor's directives, training,
machinery, weather, you get the idea. The organization's accident, incident and near-miss reporting
forms will give guidance.
Properly document all accident investigations using the organization's
approved investigation form. The form
should make it simple to remember what questions to ask, be easy to
understand and complete, and be filed and retained in chronological order.
Investigation reports are not to be released to anyone without
Review all accident, incident and near-miss investigations occurring since
the last safety committee meeting at
the next safety meeting.
Accident Investigation, 2nd edition,
National Safety Council
Accident Investigation, The University of Warwick, Safety Office,
Mueller, Cathy, Incident Investigation SHRM White Paper, Society for Human
Resource Management, Washington, DC.
Safety and Health Program Management Fact Sheets, Accident/Incident
Investigation, Module 4, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Severe Accident Investigation Form — Sample
Accident Investigation — Sample Form
Accident Investigation Form — Sample-1
Accident Investigation Form — Sample-2
Reporting Near Miss Form — Sample
Safety Violations Reporting Form — Sample
Investigation Procedures Fact Sheet
Policy and Procedure Fact Sheet