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How To Train Your Accident Investigators
Accidents are bound to happen no matter how hard you try to prevent them. Investigating those accidents and using the results to identify root causes and corrective action is key to an effective safety program. But if your safety program is like so many others, you probably don't have anybody trained to perform these functions properly.
Why Is Training Necessary?
You might think you have everything in place - the safety committee, poster programs, slogans, accident reports and corrective action plans. You have workers' compensation statistics and internal numbers. You might even have safety performance tied into your performance evaluation and review system. But when it's time to take corrective action, are you correcting the real root cause? Do you really know what happened and how to fix it?
Good accident investigations reveal true root causes that lead to intelligent corrective action plans intended to prevent future accidents. But you can't take it for granted that your supervisory employees know how to conduct an accident investigation. Special skills are required to properly identify true causes and to develop proper plans to correct accident-causing conditions.
Look at Previous Reports to Judge Investigators' Effectiveness
How can you tell if your accident investigators have the skills and understanding to identify true causes and recommend appropriate corrective actions? One way to find out is to look at how accident investigators describe causes and corrective actions on previous reports.
Wrong Way: Look for general, vague phrases like the following:
Right Way: Supervisors properly trained in accident investigation techniques give you details that identify specific conditions or actions you can address directly. Examples:
Train your investigators to look beyond the obvious. Proper training should include:
Your training should also ensure that your accident investigators have a clear understanding of:
Don't let intuition guide your accident investigators. Train them to
conduct a thorough investigation and provide you with relevant information
you can use to properly identify and correct problems.