Accident Investigation Guidelines

Who Should Investigate

Supervisors should make their own initial investigation of all accidents that take place in their work area. The supervisor should be involved for the following reasons:

  • Supervisors have a responsibility to provide workers with a safe and healthful workplace.
  • Supervisors are often first on the scene and can observe conditions before they have been changed.
  • Supervisors know the workers and their work better than anyone else and are in the best position to gather facts and find a practical solution to the problem.
  • The supervisor's accident investigation can help promote better relations with workers by demonstrating concern for their safety and attention to accident prevention.

The Security & Public Safety should also be contacted at x7777 so an Incident Report can be prepared. When circumstances warrant (e.g., complex technical issues, chemical exposures, serious injury) a more comprehensive follow-up investigation by other University offices or outside consultants may be conducted.

How to Investigate

As with most other tasks, skill in conducting effective investigations improves with experience. The following are good basic approaches in finding out what caused the accident and what can be done to prevent reoccurrences:

  • Maintain objectivity. The purpose is to determine the cause, not to assign blame.
  • Check the accident site and circumstances as soon as possible before anything has been moved.
  • Discuss the accident with injured person after first aid or medical treatment was given. Also interview anyone who witnessed the incident and anyone familiar with the conditions immediately before and after the incident.
  • Be thorough. Small details are often helpful in determining the accident's cause.
  • Reconstruct the sequence of events that resulted in the accident, considering all possible causes. Determine any unsafe conditions or actions that were contributing factors. Examples of factors might include unguarded machinery, broken tools or equipment, slippery floors; not following established procedures or insufficient training.
  • Write down all the details (including persons involved, time, date, location, witnesses, description of incident, contributing factors, corrective action taken, etc.) while they are fresh in your mind. Attach any witness statements, drawings or diagrams, floor plans and photos if available.

Investigation Results

Supervisors should take action to control or eliminate the conditions that caused the accident once they have been conclusively identified. Security and Public Safety can provide assistance in determining the level of corrective action to be taken, such as the following:

  • Changes of equipment used and/or the addition of safeguards.
  • Issuing of personal protective equipment.
  • Changes in operations processes and policies to reduce or eliminate hazards.
  • Training of employees.

Any of the above should be done in consultation with your Executive Officer, Director or Head of Office.