An Investment In Your Employees, Your Company, Your Future

Take 10 steps to report workplace incidents

You've identified the hazards, you've conducted the analyses, and you've implemented controls to eliminate or reduce the hazards. But what happens if an incident still occurs?

The first step is to investigate the incident. Why? When you investigate an incident, you will uncover the cause of the hazard and then be able to determine how to correct it. While such an investigation sounds reactive, the corrective action you take as a result of the investigation is proactive--possibly preventing a repeat of a similar incident. There are different types of incidents--all should be investigated. For example, although a "near miss" incident results in no injury or damage, it should be heeded as a warning sign. If corrective action is not taken, the incident can occur again until an injury or damage results. Other types of incidents include those with injury, with property damage, with equipment/product damage, or with fatalities and recordable injuries.

How to respond to an incident

There are 10 basic steps to investigating an incident, according to the National Safety Council.

  1. Provide emergency response--Immediately provide first aid to injured employees until necessary medical attention can be administered.
  2. Secure the area--The area where the incident occurred needs to be roped or taped off, and any machine involved should be turned off and locked out. This prevents a repeat incident from occurring, while preserving all evidence for the investigation.
  3. Identify potential witnesses--List everyone involved or anyone who might have seen or heard anything relating to the event.
  4. Have the necessary investigative tools available--This might include a camera, a video recorder, a tape recorder, flashlight, barricade markers, tape, tags and padlocks.
  5. Save evidence and record data--The scene should be documented as it was found, and evidence should be collected or recorded.
  6. Conduct interviews--Interview everyone who was involved in or witnessed the incident.
  7. Review the data--Examine inspection reports, maintenance reports, prior incident reports and analyses, noting patterns or trends.
  8. Prepare an investigation report--Combine all collected facts, interviews and data into written report.
  9. Determine the causes--Prevent future incidents by eliminating or correcting the hazard.
  10. Follow-up--Follow up ti see that the hazardous condition is corrected.

Confusion often reigns after an incident. Everyone--co-workers, supervisors, and managers--tries to help. To eliminate the confusion and control the chaos that occurs after an incident, set up a plan that incorporates the 10 steps outlined. Make sure all employees know the plan and their roles.