As a business owner it is sensible to have an accident investigation procedure so that you can defend yourself in case of any claim. The procedure should identify the steps you need to complete to make sure you have all the relevant information and it is collected at a time when it is still fresh in people's memory. The longer it is left, the more likely is that facts will be replaced by assumptions or clouded by conversations with others.
Your accident investigation procedures will essentially be a checklist detailing the information you need to collect. This will allow you to focus on gathering the information rather than trying to work out what information to even collect. Although it may appear overkill to collect all this information it will be very useful in the event of a claim, especially if it three years after the incident took place.
The accident investigation should take place as soon as practical after the incident and would usually be completed by the supervisor or manager of the area concerned. It should be documented and include photos or video of the relevant areas and any of equipment involved. Eyewitness statements should be taken of those who were involved or who saw what happened. People are sometimes nervous of giving statements as they think it will get their colleague into trouble. It cannot be denied that you are trying to identify what was at fault so that it can be corrected and therefore not happen to anyone else. The object is to identify what happened but not apportion blame and any statements need to be taken in strict confidence.
A key source of information will be maintenance records as this will identify that machinery was confirmed as OK to use, or not. It goes without saying that records that prove you have not done something will be an issue for your insurance company not to mention the Health and Safety Executive.
Another key source will be risk assessments. Assuming you have more than five employees you should have already documented the major risks in your company. If the accident wasn't identified as a risk, it now needs to be added so that you can show you continue to improve your health and safety performance.
Your insurance company will be able to advise you on what information to obtain as they are more used to defending claims than you are. If you investigate all accidents, apart from minor ones, you will soon build up a picture of what information you will require.
Nigel J Welford is a qualified Health & Safety professional and believes in making health and safety as simple as possible whilst still being effective and meeting all the regulations. For his free report "The Secret To How Health & Safety Can Improve Your Business And Profits: 7 Everyday Pitfalls To Avoid" from http://bit.ly/TI68sD
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