An effective accident investigation policy is key in any organization’s safety program (Shappell & Wiegmann, 1997 p.269-291). While it is essential to keep in mind some cautions, it is a reactive process and accident investigations must thus include even the tiniest of details for the prevention of further injury. The purpose of this paper is to, in light of this, outline ten common accident investigation mistakes to avoid.
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They include failure to investigate near misses, ineffective corrective actions, interview biases (untruthfulness), investigator biases, unskilled investigators, conflicting objectives, uncooperative system, politics, considering surface causes only, and untimely investigations(Oakley, 2012).
Firstly, failure to investigate near misses leads to the possibility of not addressing a depth of risk. Near misses are known to cause first aid injuries, which lead to minor injuries and finally major injuries(Oakley, 2012). For example, when a lady almost falls from a balcony but the property owner chooses to ignore the situation, they fail to address the near miss.
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Secondly, Ineffective corrective actions lead to generation of corrective action, therefore placing the blame on one person without getting into the root of the problem. For example, a manager might place a blame on the inattention of an employee for breaking a company glass pane. Yet, the manager has not collected enough data to justify a blame on the employee.
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Thirdly interview biases lead to an investigation reaching a wrong conclusion because one or more interviewees provide inaccurate descriptions(Oakley, 2012). This is most likely because the interviewees are escaping the blame by altering their statements. An example is when an employee claims that they found the broken glass on the floor, yet they broke the glass themselves.
Fourthly, investigator biases lead an investigation towards a line of thought that they are biased upon. It might not be a conscious decision, but an aspect of human nature. For example, an investigator might consistently find the employee at fault after successive investigations even though they are not.
Finally, unskilled investigators are a common mistake in many organizations. It is essential for an investigator to possess a combination of experience and training to arrive at accurate conclusions(Oakley, 2012). Lack of such skills often leads to faulty conclusions. For example, it is common for new investigators to arrive at defective deductions because they are not experienced and lack certain skills.
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