Overview: Even when workplace safety is a top concern, accidents can still happen; and when an accident does take place, employers should have an investigation procedure in place to quickly find the root of the accident. When the cause is known, a solution can be implemented to prevent it from happening again.
Accidents can be caused by unsafe conditions, such as a slippery floor or a broken machine, or unsafe acts, like untrained workers or employees engaging in horseplay. A good accident investigation will look for all possible causes. Most accidents are going to be the result of multiple factors, and an accident investigation is not complete if it does not capture and account for all of them.
Employers should have forms to record the findings of the investigation. They should interview witnesses, check machinery, look at the work environment and do whatever else it takes to get a complete picture of the accident. However, no action on the part of the employer should interfere with an official investigation by law enforcement, such as deleting or tampering with any potential evidence.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
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