When becoming a root cause detective…

Date Posted: 01/29/2019

Workplace AccidentsPreventing accidents and keeping workers healthy, that's the goal. But while we all do our best to keep accidents from happening in the workplace, they do occur. When an accident happens, you need to find out why it happened. To do that, conduct a thorough accident investigation to determine the "root cause" of the incident. The root cause is the "true cause" of the accident. If you can identify the root cause, you can prevent a similar accident from happening again in the future.

Finding the root cause involves a certain amount of detective work and may include interviewing employees, reviewing written procedures, and examining equipment.

Look beyond the obvious causes

During an accident investigation, it's important to avoid becoming distracted by "surface causes." Surface causes may look like root causes, but really, they are only the readily visible symptoms of underlying root causes. While it's good to correct surface causes, that's not the same as identifying and correcting the root cause.

Take an employee injured by falling off a ladder, for example. You could take a look at the surface cause to see if the ladder was in good condition. However, the ladder's condition was not the root cause of the accident.

In this case, the root cause turns out to be a lack of employee training on ladder safety and fall prevention. The employee didn't realize that overreaching could cause the ladder to tip, consequently resulting in a fall.

Remember, identify the root cause of an incident, not the surface cause. If you investigate thoroughly by asking questions and digging deeper into the problem, you’ll find an accurate solution and stop the same accident from reoccurring.


J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE can help you investigate

When you use the right accident investigation steps and procedures, you should be able to determine the root cause of an accident. SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE can help you with your investigation with a topic on Accident Investigation that will walk you through the ten primary steps for completing a successful accident investigation, along with:

  • Organizing your accident investigation team;
  • Creating a written plan;
  • Assembling your accident investigation kit;
  • Labeling and marking evidence;
  • Reporting on the accident;
  • Developing recommendations; and
  • Follow-up.

In addition, the Interactive Tools in SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE help you prepare and implement an accident reporting and investigation plan, which will aid you in hunting for the root causes to any workplace accidents and prevent them from reoccurring.


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