Accident investigations drive safety improvements
While lifting a pallet with a forklift, the load slipped and fell onto the factory floor. Luckily there were no persons injured, although a co-worker was close to the accident scene observing and assisting in the lifting. The pallet and the product were damaged.
The importance of near misses
In the 1920’s, U.S. scientist H.W. Heinrich (1886-1962) made his famous approach to understand why accidents happen, and how they could be prevented. He came up with a pyramid model, which illustrates the relation between near-misses, less serious accidents and serious accidents. In this model, the peak of the pyramid represents the rarest cases, i.e. the serious accidents, and the number of cases increases the lower we go while the severity of these are reduced.
The point of the pyramid is to illustrate, that the most serious accidents are grounded in near misses, and the less serious accidents have a link to the serious ones. Thus, focusing and removing the near misses will have a reductive impact on the more serious accidents.
Over the years, this model has remained almost the same, and Heinrich’s theory has been proven to be valid in practice. After a century, this theory and the pyramid model still underline why gathering near misses and safety observations is so important – they are indicators for something that can cause much bigger loss next time, unless managed effectively.
Hazards and hazardous conditions should be identified and reported actively. This is a continuous process, that should take place every day. A good practice is that all employees identify hazards (including hazardous conditions) as a part of their everyday routines. This is a question of safety culture, combined with knowledge of the working conditions and tasks.
How to conduct a good investigation?
Accident investigation should aim to define the preventive measures holistically, so that improvements can be targeted to safety and risk management, as well as to technical details and work practices.
In order to help our clients to enhance their accident investigations, If has published a thorough training in our Learning Hub. The training gives a detailed overview to theories, practices and to some investigation models. The training is targeted especially for risk managers and occupational health and safety personnel. The training is useful for anyone interested in accident investigations and conducting them.
Did you know?
If you are an If client visit the Learning Hub to access this training course, and many more.