Accident Investigation and Report Essay

The material in this short booklet has been produced to support an accident investigation and reporting course which can be run. Although it does not cover in detail all of the subjects that can be discussed on the course, it does aim to provide supporting material in relation to the key aspects. This should prove useful both during the course and for future reference. It should be remembered that, along with statutory obligations, contractual agreements can be entered into which contain requirements relating to accident investigation and reporting.

This is often the case between clients and contractors and between clients and suppliers. From a health and safety perspective the primary purpose of an accident investigation is to identify the causes of an accident in order to suggest remedial action which will prevent a recurrence. This will often involve looking beyond the immediate, or direct, cause to the underlying, or root, causes. Only when all of these have been identified and tackled, can we claim to have taken effective action. Hopefully you will find both the course and this material beneficial in the important work that you perform.

The term “accident” is defined in the HOSE publication Successful health and safety management (HAS(G)65) as: “any undesired circumstances which give rise to ill health or injury; damage to property, plant, products or the environment; production losses, or increased liabilities”. The same publication suggests that the related term “incident” includes undesired circumstances and near misses with the potential to cause accidents. The key term here being “potential”, it is particularly important to investigate incidents which had the potential to cause severe harm even if the actual harm caused was trivial.

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In addition, the terms “injury-accident” and “non-injury accident” need to be clearly understood. An injury-accident involves personal injury and may also involve property damage. A non-injury accident involves property damage but no personal injury. The term “reportable accident” includes those which lead to death, specified injuries, specified illnesses or incapacity for normal work for more than three days. Reportable accidents must be reported to enforcement authorities under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995.

Where a fatality occurs, the police must also be informed. Where applicable, the employer must inform a trade union safety representative after a reportable accident in order to allow that representative to conduct an investigation under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977. Employers occupying a dictator, mine, quarry or works or premises where the Factories Act 1961 applies must keep an accident book which meets with the requirements of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

Employers occupying any other premise must keep an accident book where ten or more people are employed at the same time. However, all employers have a legal duty to record accidents and the accident book can be used for this purpose. Additionally, employees have a legal duty to inform their employer if they are injured at work, this can be achieved through completing an entry in the accident book. The approved form of accident book, Form Bal 510, is designed to enable compliance with the above requirements and also to assist employers in identifying injuries reportable under RIDDED 95. PROACTIVE AND REACTIVE STRATEGIES Proactive (sometimes termed Active) monitoring provides feedback on safety performance within an organization before an accident, case of ill-health or an incident. It involves measuring compliance with the performance standards that have 3 been set and achievement of the specific objectives laid down. The primary purpose of Proactive monitoring is to measure success and to reinforce positive achievements in order to nurture a positive safety culture. It is not intended as a meaner of identifying and punishing failure.

Proactive strategies are built upon Proactive monitoring techniques. Reactive monitoring measures accidents, cases of ill-health and incidents. The idea being to identify the causes of these failures and to take remedial action which will prevent them occurring again. Whereas information is easier to obtain from serious accidents, it is less easy to obtain from incidents (near misses or “near hits” which could have led to an accident but, fortunately, did not in this particular case). Why do you think this is? Employees are often under pressure of work and do not realize the importance of filling in yet another form.

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