Following an accident, it is important to gather all the facts as soon as (is safely) possible after the event.
The designated person can use the following information as a step-by-step guide:
- Ensure action is taken to deal with any immediate danger, e.g. administer first aid, or call the emergency services, isolate any electrical equipment, fence off/segregate the area, etc.
- Take a good calm look to assess the depth and kind of investigation needed.
- Where possible take photographs, sketches, measurements, etc before the scene is disturbed.Note: digital photos in JPEG format can be easily downloaded, stored and distributed to the appropriate interested parties. Another option is to have a disposable film camera available. The film can then be processed at a local one-hour service photo shop and the images put onto a photo CD as well as standard print format.
- Brief any other personnel involved – make it clear that the aim of the investigation is to discover the facts and prevent further accidents and injury, not to apportion blame.
- Where necessary, gather witness statements, signed and dated by each witness. Ask them to write or print clearly. Witnesses should be interviewed separately (do not let them give ‘group’ statements) and do not ask ‘leading’ questions. Obtain negative statements too, if relevant i.e. if someone was there, but says they ‘didn’t see or hear anything,’ ask them to put that in writing as above.
- Work out what happened, in what sequence. Try to establish what the underlying (root) causes were, as well as the (possibly) obvious immediate cause.
- Decide if the accident occurred as a result of no, or inadequate risk assessment, or safe working procedures being in place, or procedures were in place, but were not being fully or correctly applied, or even despite them being followed, etc.
- Against this analysis, identify if any changes are required to risk assessments, training, working environment, equipment/substances, or other factors that would prevent a recurrence.
- Decide whether the role of supervisors and management needs reviewing.