Accident Investigation and Prevention Program

This is (Enter Company Name Here) Accident Investigation and Prevention Program. It applies to all our work operations.
(Enter Name Here) will be responsible for overall direction of the Safety Program.


The purpose of establishing an Accident Investigation and Prevention Program is to preserve the health and lives of employees through the prevention of injuries, illnesses, and accidents, as well as to promote safe and healthful work conditions as the key element in day-to-day operations. Both management commitment and employee responsibility are necessary if we are to accomplish that goal.

All incidents and accidents involving company employees and contractors that result in a recordable injury, significant property damage, or where the potential for a serious event existed, shall be investigated promptly. Serious, recordable accidents should be reported by telephone, fax, or e-mail to the appropriate federal, state, or local authorities and the insurance company's claim department within 24 hours.

Establishing an Incident Investigation Program

Incident investigation takes place after an incident has happened and is intended to prevent the incident from happening again. Every incident has a cause and those involving only a slight injury may reveal just as much about inadequate safety measures as one that results in a serious injury. All occupational incidents, illnesses, and near misses (those unplanned events that do not result in injury, financial loss, or property damage) should be investigated.

Every investigation must answer the following questions:
  • How was the injury or damage incurred?
  • Exactly what happened where?
  • Under what accompanying or special circumstances did the incident occur?
  • What should be done to eliminate or control the hazard(s) that caused the incident?

Because the immediate Supervisor is usually first on the scene, he or she must be trained in how to begin the investigation. The safety staff will get involved soon afterward, but it is extremely important to speak to any eyewitness before the facts get fuzzy or people have a chance to change their minds about what they saw.

A productive incident investigation is prompt, thorough, and objective.

Steps to Follow When Conducting the Investigation

Interview the injured employee and any individual who may have witnessed the incident:
  • If the employee does not need immediate medical treatment and is physically able to talk about the incident, ask what happened.
  • Stress the fact that you want to discover the facts, not find fault or place blame on anyone.
  • Interview any participants in, or witnesses to, the incident. Allow them to speak freely, without interruption. If there is a disagreement that cannot be resolved, make a note of it for further investigation.
Write down the facts:
  • What was the nature of the injury?
  • What part of the body was injured or affected by the incident?
  • What type of incident was it or in what manner was the person injured?
  • What was the hazardous condition or circumstance involved?
  • What was the cause of the incident (the object, substance, part of the premises, etc. in which the hazardous condition existed)? Be specific.
  • What was the unsafe act, if any, which permitted the incident to occur?
Analyze the incident and take steps to ensure that it does not happen again:
  • Correct the hazard immediately, if possible.
  • Provide additional safety training where appropriate.
  • Review incident statistics to find out if the incident is part of a pattern of occurrences within the department affected. Check the employee's past record and see what safety training he or she has received.
  • Study the possibility of changing methods, procedures, equipment, layout, etc.to reduce the hazard.
  • If equipment is involved, track the problem to its source through the chain of events.

Incident Investigation

The incident investigation has one primary purpose: the determination of the basic cause of the incident so future incidents may be prevented. The attached Incident Investigation Report is intended to develop the information for this purpose and must be used for all such investigations.

Investigation of incidents will be done by the immediate Supervisor of the employee involved or by the Supervisor who is in charge of the property or area where the incident occurred.

Since conditions change and memories fade quickly, investigations shall be conducted as soon as possible after an incident occurs (ideally by the end of the shift). However, make certain all necessary steps have been taken to prevent further injury or damage before beginning the investigation. Make certain the injured person is being cared for.

In conducting the investigation, avoid placing blame or finding fault. Develop the facts of the incident from the persons involved and any witnesses.

Remember, the immediate or apparent cause (an unsafe act and/or condition) is the real or basic cause of the accident. This is the point at which corrective action should be directed. Make certain the action taken will, in fact, correct this basic cause. Also make certain the corrective action will not create other problems that could result in incidents.

The appropriate remedy will include one or more of the following:
  • Modifications to equipment
  • Modifications to procedures
  • Additional training
  • Disciplinary action
  • Request for a review by other individuals

Any judgmental or demeaning remarks are unprofessional, non-productive, and will not be tolerated.

If the result of the investigation indicates disciplinary action should be taken, the Safety Manager will advise the appropriate employee so proper disciplinary steps can be taken.

The Safety Manager will review all investigation reports. Incomplete or improperly completed reports will be returned to the individual making the report for proper completion.

Completing the Investigation Report

Once the investigation process is complete and the facts are known, preparing the report should not be difficult. The top most senior manager, or company owner, should review the Incident Investigation Report for completeness and accuracy, initial and date the report, and forward it to the Safety Manager for further processing as necessary.

Questions one through sixteen, twenty, and twenty-four on the Incident Investigation Report form are self-explanatory but are important for administrative and follow-up reasons. The name of the treating physician and clinic/hospital address may not be immediately known by the Supervisor investigating the incident and can be completed later.

Accident Type - This explains the type of incident being investigated (fall from ladder, stepped on nail, electrical shock, struck by a vehicle, fire, lifting materials, etc.).

Source - This describes the object or substance inflicting the injury or otherwise involved in the incident. Some examples are power tools, an icy floor, shredder, sheer, electrical wiring, etc.

Nature of Injury - This identifies the kind of injury resulting from the incident, such as an electrical burn, concussion, back strain, asphyxiation, etc.

Property Damage - Describe what was damaged as a result of the incident, such as a backhoe, power tool, building, maintenance vehicle, etc.

Nature of Damage - This deals with the extent of the damaged property, such as a crushed fender, backhoe rollover, destroyed tool, broken ladder, conveyer collapse, etc.

Source of Object Inflicting Damage - The source of the incident could be such things as a faulty electrical system, an excavation cave-in resulting in an injury, an unrepaired ladder, a snow-covered parking lot, etc.

Cause - This is the most critical question in the investigation because it identifies the act or condition requiring change that will control recurrence of similar incidents. The investigator needs to get beyond just the employee involved and evaluate all of the management operational controls that could be responsible for the incident. Do not state that the incident was a result of employee carelessness. Specifically define the unsafe act or condition involved that may at first appear to be carelessness, such as distraction, noise stress, heat, cold, or other natural and unnatural factors.

Severity Potential - The Investigating Supervisor should be able to determine the incident severity based on the facts of the case. For example, the injury or death severity potential for a 10-foot trench collapse in sandy soil is much greater (major) than a 4-foot trench collapse in clay.

Recurrence Potential - The experience of the Supervisor, crew, and nature of the work will help determine the possibility of similar incidents happening in the future. The Supervisor needs to evaluate the management control systems in place at the time of the incident.

Have Similar Accident(s) Occurred Before? - This directly relates to question 28. If similar accidents did in fact take place in the past, it strongly indicates that some management system, device, or control measure failed.

Reasons for Recurrence - Fully describe what failed and why.

Sample Incident Investigation Report Identification:
  1. Company or Branch__________________________________________
  2. Department________________________________________________
  3. Date of Accident_____________________________________________
  4. Time______________________________________________ a.m./p.m
  5. Date Reported_______________________________________________
  6. Name of Injured______________________________________________
  7. Age_______________________________________________________
  8. Job Title____________________________________________________
  9. Experience_________________________________________ (yrs./months)
  10. Sex M__________ F_________
  11. SSN___________________________________________________
  12. On Premises______________________________________________
  13. Off Premises______________________________________________
  14. Employee Death _____________Y ________________N
  15. Person treating injury (physician/hospital name and address)
  16. Did the injury result in lost time?______________ Change in duties?__________

  17. Accident type_________________________________________________
  18. What was the object or substance inflicting injury ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  19. Nature of injury_______________________________________________
  20. Part of body __________________________________________________

    Property Damage:
  21. What was damaged?_____________________________________________
  22. Nature of damage_______________________________________________
  23. Source of object inflicting damage____________________________________
  24. Estimated cost of repair___________________________________________
  25. Description (describe what happened, who was involved, where, when, why and how) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  26. Cause (identify unsafe acts or conditions, contributing factors)

  27. Severity potential
  28. Recurrence potential
  29. Have similar accident(s) occurred before? If so, when? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  30. Reason(s) for recurrence__________________________________________
  31. Correction (describe steps taken to prevent future accidents) ___________________________________________________________
  32. follow-up (send a copy of the report for follow-up) Immediate__7 days___30 days___60 days____Activity (list actions taken and dates) ___________________________________________________________
    Signature of Investigator __________________________________________
    Date Report Completed ___________________________________________
    Print Name and Title ____________________________________________
    Senior Management Review _______________________________________
    Date Reviewed ________________________________________________

Injury Management Program

An injury management program is a post-injury procedure designed to ensure quality medical care, contain costs, reduce potential for litigation, and return injured workers to full employment at the earliest possible time.

Management's Role

The soaring cost of workers' compensation insurance must be contained. Rather than accepting injury-related expenses as a fixed cost of doing business, companies need to be proactive in this program and focus resources on:
  • Educating employees
  • Loss reporting
  • Utilization of medical providers
  • Return-to-work (RTW)
  • Documentation

The success of this program is dependent on a strong partnership between management, employees, medical care providers, and insurance companies.

Implementation of the Program

Fear and uncertainty are primary reasons for employees to delay reporting injuries and to seek assistance from attorneys. This may be due to concern over medical bills, lost income, or even the loss of employment. Companies should take whatever action is necessary to alleviate those fears, specifically:
  • All employees should be provided with an explanation of the workers' compensation system and the benefits it provides.
  • The work force should be instructed in accident reporting procedures.
  • Injured employees should be directed to designated medical care providers, if state law permits.
  • The names, telephone numbers, and addresses of designated medical care providers should be posted on bulletin boards.
  • Of particular importance, all workers should be schooled in the company's substance abuse policy, fraudulent claim prevention, and alternative job duties and other aspects of returning to work.
Loss Reporting
  • Procedures should be established that will:
    • Give all employees the responsibility and incentive to report all accidents and near misses to their Supervisor immediately.
    • Result in coordinated action with the insurance company to ensure that required First Report of Injury forms are prepared and submitted to the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Utilization of Medical Providers

The selection of physicians, clinics, or hospitals is an important injury management decision. Companies should either directly or indirectly manage the medical care provided to injured employees to the maximum extent permitted by state workers' compensation regulations.

  • Use Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), if available.
  • Chosen medical facilities must provide quality care, effective service, and pricing to fit company guidelines.
  • Whenever possible, encourage physicians treating employees to visit the company to observe operations and gain a better understanding of the way business is conducted.
  • Return-to-Work (RTW).

Return-to-Work (RTW)

To effectively manage the costs incurred as a result of work-related injuries, the following should be closely followed and monitored:
  • Ensure that initial treatment is provided. Immediately following an injury, provide necessary first aid and send the employee to a medical care provider as required. Document all details of the date and time of the injury, the type of first aid provided, and the name of the physician, clinic, or hospital where the employee received treatment.
  • Provide a job function evaluation form to the treating physician.
  • Provide a description of the employee's current job, with details on postures (standing, sitting, walking) and physical demands (lifting – amount of weight and frequency, hours worked, tool usage, etc.) to the treating physician.
  • Provide a copy of the injury report describing how the injury occurred, if available.
  • Outline the company's position on returning injured employees to work.

Attending Physician's Report

It is critical to obtain the treating physician's response to any work restrictions the injured worker may have. If the doctor has the job function evaluation as a guide, an informed response should be obtainable.

Contact the Employee

Employee contact should be made in person or by phone within 24 hours.
  • Reassure the employee of the company's commitment to their well-being.
  • Assess the employee's understanding of the treatment he or she received.
  • Ask if the employee has any specific questions about future plans, treatment.

Follow Up with the Physician

Within 24 hours of initial treatment, obtain details regarding recommended additional treatment, return-to-work expectations, and specific job restrictions. Discuss a specific timetable for the employee's return to regular work duties.

Maintain Contact with the Employee, Physician, and the Claims Handler

During the employee's absence from work, continue to monitor progress:
  • Contact the employee at least once every week to inquire about their recovery and express our concern for their return to good health.
  • Contact the physician periodically to discuss recovery progress and any changes in the timetable for the employee's return to work.
  • Keep the company’s claims handler informed about the employee's return to work status.

Establish an Injury Management Record

For each case involving lost time and/or follow-up medical treatment, establish an injury management record. All activities regarding treatment and recovery should be logged and documented whenever possible. Explain any progress toward returning to work and discuss this with the claims handler, the physician, and or other parties involved. Indicate the date the employee returned to work and in what capacity (full duty, part-time, limited physical activity, etc.).

The record should include:
  • A copy of the injury report
  • Documentation of initial treatment
  • Copies of medical bills
  • A log of all phone conversations with the employee, physician, and claims handler
  • Progress reports from the physician

File Construction and Maintenance

A medical case file should be maintained on every employee injury requiring medical treatment. These medical files should be separated from standard employee files and secured apart from all other file information being maintained on the injured employee.

All documentation concerning the treatment of an employee injury should be maintained in this file. This includes a copy of the Employer's First Report of Injury, copy of the Employee's First Report of Injury (if required by the state), medical bills received, medical bills paid, and correspondence to and from all parties involved until the injured worker returns to full employment without medical restrictions.

There are good reasons to maintain a medical case management file. These include:
  • Maintaining strict confidentiality between injured employee and employer.
  • Securing of data necessary to manage the claim.
  • Providing a checklist for the company representative managing the case that documents actions taken to protect the rights of the company and the injured employee.
  • Providing a monitoring system to keep company management current on the status of the injured employee and progress being made on getting that individual back into the normal workflow.
Sample Incident/Accident Questionnaire WHO:
  1. Who was injured?
  2. Who saw the incident?
  3. Who was working with him/her?
  4. Who had instructed/assigned him/her?
  5. Who else was involved?
  6. Who else can help prevent recurrence?
  7. What was the incident?
  8. What was the injury?
  9. What was he/she doing?
  10. What had he/she been told to do?
  11. What tools was he/she using?
  12. What machine was involved?
  13. What operation was he/she performing?
  14. What training and specific instruction had he/she been given?
  15. What specific precautions were necessary?
  16. What specific precautions were given?
  17. What protective equipment should have been used?
  18. What protective equipment was he/she using?
  19. What had other persons done that contributed to the accident?
  20. What problem or question did he/she encounter?
  21. What did he/she or witnesses do when the incident occurred?
  22. What extenuating circumstances were involved?
  23. What did he/she or witnesses see?
  24. What will be done to prevent recurrence?
  25. What safety rules are needed?
  26. What new rules are needed?
  27. If the incident involved an equipment failure, was the equipment of faulty construction or design?
  28. When did incident occur?
  29. When did he/she start on that job?
  30. When was he/she assigned on the job?
  31. When were the hazards pointed out to him/her?
  32. When had his/her Supervisor last checked on job progress?
  33. When did he/she first sense something was wrong?
  34. Why was he/she injured?
  35. Why did he/she do what he/she did?
  36. Why did other people do what they did?
  37. Why wasn't protective equipment used?
  38. Why weren't specific instructions given to him/her?
  39. Why was he/she in the position he/she was in?
  40. Why was he/she using the tools or machine he/she used?
  41. Why didn't he/she check with his/her Supervisor when he/she noted things weren't as they should be?
  42. Why did he/she continue working under the circumstances?
  43. Why wasn't the Supervisor there at the time?
  44. Where did the accident occur?
  45. Where was he/she at the time?
  46. Where were fellow workers at the time?
  47. Where were other people who were involved at the time?
  48. Where were witnesses when the accident occurred?
  49. How did he/she get injured?
  50. How could he/she have avoided it?
  51. How could fellow workers have avoided it?
  52. How could Supervisor have prevented it? (Could he/she?)
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