Incident investigations are part of a comprehensive occupational safety and health program. All incidents must be investigated, from accidents that resulted in injury or fatality, to near misses that had no impacts.
Incident investigations must look beyond the immediate causes on an incident and identify root causes. If conducted well, incident investigations help to identify hazards and risks. This is followed by the implementation of corrective actions that address the root causes of an incident.
Don’t Wait Until an Incident Happens
Being proactive is always better than being reactive. The best time to develop an action plan for an incident investigation is before the incident happens, not after. But there’s one important detail to keep in mind: Not all incidents are the same. One size does not fit all. An incident involving a forklift will be different than an incident involving a chemical spill.
But a generic action plan template, which can then be adapted for specific incident types, is still useful because it allows for advanced planning that helps to kick-start an incident investigation right away. It’s important to start an investigation as soon as possible, while the evidence is still available, and while witnesses still have a fresh memory of what happened.
Some of the elements of the action plan may include:
- Notification to relevant stakeholders
- Identification of incident investigators
- Steps to determine corrective actions
- Creation and distribution of the incident investigation report
- Steps to implement recommendations
- Evaluation of effectiveness of corrective actions
Action Plan Software Makes a Difference
Creating an action plan, maintaining it over time and during organizational changes, adapting it for specific incidents types, launching it, and providing access to it centrally to the entire organization can only happen through the use of an action plan software application. Using spreadsheets and manual processes is simply not an option.
Through action plan software, organizations can schedule and deploy actions, check progress, alert team members and make sure that required actions are delivered within deadlines. Tasks can be centrally created, assigned and managed, and can be accessed and closed through as well.
More Information on Incident Investigation
- OSHA’s webpage on Incident Investigation
- OSHA’s Incident Investigations: A Guide for Employers
- OSHA’s The Importance of Root Cause Analysis During Incident Investigation
- NSC’s How to Conduct an Incident Investigation
- Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Accident Investigation Basics
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