Accident Investigation-Real Stories

All accidents must be investigated to identify the root cause of the injury.
The purpose of this Investigation is to gather relevant facts about the
Incident, document all statements and prevent future accidents by correcting
the unsafe conditions through training.

Real Stories:
As you should know, the purpose of an Accident Investigation is to prevent
to event that caused injury from occurring again. To do this safety
professional are trained to ask the key questions of Who, When, Where,
How and Why- Only the facts –Mam. Then we focus and widdle down on
the why. Often we go through the process with diligently gathering all the
pertinent fact of date, time, circumstances, environmental conditions, and
other factors. We interview individuals that witness the accident or had any
type of control over the injured individuals’ performance. Put yourself in
their shoes.
I want to submit that the details have to be used in the context of the
organizations environmental factors to implement meaningful controls to
prevent recurrence. That is to say often the actions of other, outside
intervening elements may influence the accident story.
I offer three Accident Analysis scenario’s that further illustrate this point:
Accident Analysis Case 1:
An HVAC Contractor has had a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) where the
driver is injured (workers’ compensation claim and the vehicle is damaged
(Auto Property Damage). The situation is that late in the day,
about 4:45 PM, the company truck was attempting to turn into the shop off a
busy highway. To do so the driver had to do a left turn across oncoming
traffic. As the driver waited to turn he was rear ended which caused the
above mentioned damage. On the outset, it would seem we have a simple
cause of a careless driver that hit the HVAC mechanic in the rear. A review
of the company’s loss reports indicate that over the years they have had

several of these type events, same location, approximately the same time of
day, causing generally the same kind of damage. This warrants further
investigation as we know, accidents are a series of causal factors that lead
up to an injury. By placing ourselves in the environment of the driver, that is
driving down the road in a vehicle and attempting to make a left turn , using
the blinker, all seem normal. However, by placing ourselves in the position
of the careless driver by following the HVAC van we see some causal
factors emerge. The truck was travelling East and it was late in the day. The
setting sun was giving off a bright glow that shone on the rear of the truck
and made the rear tail light and blinker impossible to see due to the setting
sun’s brightness. Corrective suggestions are numerous, such as slowing
well before the turn, or installing a dedicated turn lane, increasing the
visibility of the rear with reflective tape and other loss prevention measures.
The point here is to dig deeper to get to the root cause to effect meaningful
corrective action.

Accident Analysis case 2:
It is common for casino operators provide shuttle service for the hotel guest
to the casino. It pretty convenient where the shuttle picks you up at the hotel
you are staying at and provides you a ride to the casino and the returns you
to your hotel after you have lost all of your money. One particular casino
was having a trend of the shuttle buses being rear –ended while they made
there pick –up and drop-off’s. A review of the environment immediately
identified the reason for these accidents. Recall, vehicle accidents mandate a
high level of attention as when one occurs several types of coverage can
trigger to settle claims, the driver may claim Worker’s Compensation, the
casino guest may be injured and file suit under the commercial Auto policy.
Also, the vehicle may be damaged and that would be a Auto Physical
Damage claim. The shuttle busses, that pick up the guest, are painted black
bumper to bumper. Therefore, the rear end of the bus is extremely dark and
hard to see. Here we have a classic case of where style, the dark shuttle bus,
has increased the probability of a loss. Furthermore, shuttle busses have to
slow to make the turn into the hotel parking lots. To add to the mix, casino
guest in cars may have been drinking, as it is common for casino’s to
provide free alcohol to gamblers. This would serve to reduce reaction time
of the other driver. Corrective techniques, here again , are numerous such
as: installing blinking yellow lights on the back of the shuttle bus, installing

reflective tape on the rear of the bus, requiring seatbelts on riders, requiring
defensive driving classes for shuttle bus operators, etc.
Accident Analysis case # 3;
At a muffler manufacturing plant warehouse back injuries were a high
frequency loss driver. The obvious loss exposure is lifting parts beyond the
capability of the employees. A review of the details indicated that these
injuries happened about 6 PM and occurred mostly to women. Well, we all
know that women have a higher propensity to back injury as they have
smaller back muscles and may not be able to lift as much as men. But what
was the reason for the claims trend so late in the day. The crews from 8-5
did not have the same back injury trend. So there is a beginning point.
What is the difference between day and night crews. Well upon an interview
with the night Production Manager it turns out that the night crew had fewer
people than the day crew. Now bear in mind the night crew did turn out less
production due to the fewer employees. However, what the Safety Director
failed to realize and pro-act on was the fact that the night crew had to lift,
move, carry and assemble parts that had the same weight as the day crews.
Due to the fewer number of workers they could not rely on gang lifting. So
employees had a higher weight movement demand load requirement than
the day crew. Also, the forklift may or may not be in the section of the
warehouse that the lift was taking place. Hence, injuries occurred.
When performing accident investigations it is important to gather all the
necessary information as to create a realistic picture of what caused the
injury and implement needed changes to prevent recurrence.
In this process we may have to step beyond the usual events of the situation
and place ourselves in the actual environment of the accident scene. That is
the same time of day, the same weather conditions, the same number of
people, etc, to develop a deeper understanding of the causal factors that led up to the accident taking place.