Accident Investigation - a formality or a purpose?


Dear readers, in yet another topics after a little pause, I thought I must express my opinion on a very common program in the safety arena and that is Accident Investigation. Although the name itself is not a correct representation of the purpose for which we do this exercise following an accident.  Accident Investigation does more bad than good. An accident rather must be analyzed than investigated in order to find the situations responsible for the accident. Anyway, this is not the topics of review today. What I intend to talk about in this article is about the subject line.
In an industry, an accident happens when a person fell because a ladder slipped while replacing a fused bulb standing on the rung of it. As usual, a Safety Officer was assigned to do the so-called Accident Investigation in order to suggest management the ways to avoid a reoccurrence in future. After an investigation, he concluded that the person who was holding the ladder was at err. As a causative factor, it was stated that the person while attending a phone call caused loosen the grip on the ladder and the ladder slipped through it legs. A solution was given that a person should be given training (a flash intuitive solution, unfortunately).

Now a few questions on the investigation to make out my point thereafter;

·     Was investigation in the right direction?
·     Was accident rightly analyzed?
·     Was it a fault of person?
·     Is ladder meant for working from?
· Can such an accident be avoided if the person hadn’t attended the phone call?
·     Is holding a ladder a right way of ladder safety?
·     Will training help avoid reoccurrence?


“NO” as answers of all questions above or of many more other indicate that the formality of carrying out an Accident Investigation is not going to help you at all. 
Substituting Accident Investigation with Accident/Incident Analysis along with the application of techniques and competency is key to the efforts for accident reduction.

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