Accident Investigation


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Despite best efforts, workplace accidents happen. Investigating and properly documenting the incident is not only a legislative requirement but also lends to prevention of accidents in the future. Here’s an example of what an accident investigation might look like.

Steps for Conducting an Investigation

  1. Secure the Scene
    1. Tend to the injured worker and ensure they receive proper medical attention immediately.
    2. Stop work in the surrounding area. Make sure any machinery or equipment is off and disconnect it from the power source.
    3. Secure the area so that the scene can be preserved.
  2. Gather Evidence
    1. Begin the investigation as soon as reasonably possible.
    2. Interview eyewitnesses, take photographs, draw diagrams (if necessary), and collect any physical evidence.
  3. Analyse the Information
    1. Review the evidence in order to determine the cause(es) of the incident.
  4. Report the Results of the Incident Investigation
    1. Document the results and share with all relevant parties such as: HR department, JHSC, WSIB, Ministry of Labour.
  5. Make Recommendations
    1. Considering the evidence and the results, make recommendations to make sure that this type of incident doesn’t happen again.
  6. Follow Up
    1. JHSC should follow up to make sure that the recommendations are being implemented and they are effective in preventing future similar incidents.

Investigation Questions

Questions will vary depending on the type of incident. Here is a sample of questions that might be asked following an incident with machinery:

Human Factors

  • Describe in your own words what happened?
  • What were you doing at the time of the incident?
  • Who was present at the time of the incident?
  • Was this a regular task?
  • Were the proper guards or other safety equipment in place?
  • Has faulty equipment been reported before in this area?

Situational Factors

  • Was the machinery and equipment functioning properly?
  • Was proper training for the machinery and equipment provided?
  • Was PPE available and being used?
  • At what time of day did the incident occur?
  • Is the machinery and equipment routinely inspected?
  • Are the products used of sufficient quality?

Environmental Factors

  • Was there proper lighting?
  • Did the incident happen in a high traffic area (that might be conducive to accidental bumps)?
  • Are there any bright lights or window that may shine bright sunlight in the area such that they would impede the worker’s vision while working?
  • Are there any unsecured items in the area that may fall or otherwise interfere with machinery or equipment or the worker?
  • Are there any loud noises or vibrations that would interfere with operations?


The following are some possible recommendations. In a real situation, recommendations would be based on the investigation and report of the incident, and preventing future such incidents from happening:

  • Regular inspections of machinery and safety equipment.
  • Health and Safety training for employees and supervisors.
  • A procedure which allows employees to submit and document requests for safety equipment and proper follow through of requests.
  • A sufficient budget to ensure proper guards and other safety equipment is available.
  • A strict policy on halting operation of any machine or piece of equipment that does not have the proper safety guards or other safety equipment in place.
  • Enforcement of H&S policy including progressive discipline for those not following proper procedures.
  • Proper communication of the above recommendations as well as the H&S policy.

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