Now that you know what a safety culture looks like, how can you get there? Researchers attempt to determine the real cause of an accident using root cause analysis. Finding the root cause of accidents in the public entity can offer means by which accidents can be reduced in frequency and/or severity. In other words, root cause analysis looks beyond whether the first aid box has adhesive bandages and antibiotic. Root cause analysis looks at the who, what, where, why, and how the accident occurred.
W. Edwards Deming’s work in Total Quality Management found that studying “mistakes” was valuable, because the mistake generally took place because of a problem in the process. These factors can include the time of day that the accident occurred, weather conditions, level of training of the employee, availability or condition of tools and vehicles, or safety standards.
Root cause analysis can be effectively used in the process of accident/injury investigation. Examining the factors that contributed to the situation can often go beyond just the facts of the incident. Consider the public entity’s cultural and attitudinal issues in developing an overall picture.
Samples of several forms on which data can be collected for future analysis follow. Adapt these to cover the entity’s specific requirements, i.e. it may not have a fleet, but it may have employees who occasionally use their own vehicles to transact entity business (running errands, picking up a VIP, taking a co-worker to a business meeting or conference).