The prime objective of accident investigation is prevention. Finding the causes of an accident and taking steps to control or eliminate it can help prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. Accidents can rarely be attributed to a single cause. Work environment, job constraints, and supervisory or worker experience can all play a part. These factors must be examined to determine what role each had in causing the accident.
Once the causes are established, precautions must be identified and implemented to prevent a recurrence. Investigators must always keep in mind that effective accident investigation means fact-finding, not fault-finding.
To explain why and how an accident happened, investigators must collect information on the events that took place before and during the event. Investigators can then determine accident conditions by examining physical evidence and interviewing witnesses. Both of these steps are of equal importance and should be done as soon as possible to ensure complete accident investigation. Equally important is the need to document the steps that were taken immediately after the accident to deal with the emergency and to begin the investigation. It also identifies the forms to be used and the procedures to be followed within specified time frames.
In order for an investigation to be a valuable tool in accident prevention, three things must take place:
- The information gathered must be analyzed;
- Corrective action must be taken; and
- The action must be monitored for effectiveness.