Friday, July 25, 2014

Accident Investigation

Look at the picture, then read down...

OK, read down...



Read on...

You are wondering what this picture has to do with safety and accident investigation? You  first probably noticed the girl's thong showing through her pants (women saying that is a fashion faux pas, men adding a point to their thong spotting score. )

Did you notice the DOG driving the white car? Go look.

So what does this picture have to do with accident investigation? Quite simply I ask: "What else are you missing?"

Just because you think you know where the scene is, you may be missing something. When I teach accident investigation, and my students determine the scene, we rope it off to investigate just like the police.

After  we investigate the scene, I ask: "What else are you missing?" I tell them that you will (usually) find something outside the scene that has a bearing on interpreting what caused the accident. My Rule of Thumb: 20 feet.

That is to say to say there is additional evidence at least 20 feet away from what you thought was the scene. For example an employee is injured by a machine that the guards were tampered with. What additional evidence can be more than 20 feet away?

How about a production memo that pressures employees to take shortcuts or devices being made in the maintenance shop that disable the guards?

Investigate Accurately, Recreate Accurately

You may do your "initial investigation" as soon as possible to preserve evidence, but do a thorough investigation accurately. If the accident happened on 3ed shift, come back then to do a thorough investigation. There may be dynamics that are only present on 3rd shift like employees coming from the bar to work.

If you recreate the accident scene, do it accurately.  I recreated a roof section that was involved with a fall. By comparing my pictures I had taken at the scene with the full sized model I built, I discovered that the rails and toe boards were not properly attached. I solved this when I noticed that my model had long common nails from where nailing the toe boards and rails missed the rafters.

This was confirmed by another visit to the scene and interview with employees. They did use nearly enough nails, not wanting to damage the new roof.

My 20 foot rule is no guarantee, BUT it is a reminder to think "outside the box" (or accident scene).

Thank you for reading.