All companies at some point must conduct accident investigations. The decision that each company must make is how thorough and how much attention should the accident investigation entail. There are many companies that perform excellent accident investigations, but then do not perform corrective actions to fix the problems. Other companies perform the opposite, it that, they do not determine the problem areas or what happened, but just try to fix the problems. There are many techniques that can be used to help companies and safety professionals analyze accidents and be comfortable that the causes have been determined and the corrective actions will prevent recurrence. This paper will address many different types of techniques that can be used on small, medium, and even large-scale accident investigations. By using accident investigation analytical techniques, accidents can be prevented at each workplace.
This paper will address different techniques that can be used to investigate accidents, determine the causes, and develop corrective actions. The accident investigation techniques will include events and causal factors analysis, change analysis, barrier analysis, and analytical trees. Other specialized techniques will be briefly discussed. The purpose is to help use these techniques in the workplace to prevent future accidents by analyzing what happened.
The analytical approach to investigating accidents is used to find out what happened and how to prevent future accidents. The approach is to use the knowledge and the facts from interviews, photographs, and other investigative techniques to analyze the accident and find out what happened. This is a very intuitive and iterative process to use techniques that develop scenarios and determines what happened. The purpose is to use techniques and methodologies that help the accident investigator to determine the accident sequence and then the causal factors.
In the analytical approach as illustrated in Figure 1, the purpose is to use the techniques and methodologies to analyze the knowledge and facts to develop results or recommendations and corrective actions to prevent future accidents. An analytical approach will establish consistency and validity to the accident investigation process. The analytical techniques will also track how much knowledge is required and how much interviewing and facts the accident investigator needs to complete the analytical process. Analyzing the knowledge is key to finding out what happened.
Figure 1. This is the analytical approach to analyzing an accident (available in full paper).
The first step is to select the techniques to use in the accident investigation. Each technique will analyze a different problem and each has strengths and weaknesses. The basic techniques, which work for almost all accidents, are events and causal factors analysis, change analysis, barrier analysis, and analytical trees. These techniques are broad enough in scope to handle the small incidents as well as major catastrophes. One of the best ways is to use multiple techniques to ensure that accuracy, consistency, and validity are achieved in the accident investigations.