When things go wrong but, it doesn’t actually result in an accident where someone gets injured, everyone heaves a sigh of relief and you hear phrases like ‘it was a near miss’ and ‘there was an incident’. Consider that a near miss is also a near hit – and an incident that is out of the ordinary and unplanned needs looking into – or it will almost certainly happen again – perhaps with a less fortunate outcome. So why are ‘incidents’ and ‘near misses’ often not investigated?
An accident is not simply a description of a situation where someone gets hurt. An effective organisation uses the tools of accident investigation as a business improvement tool.
1. To explore any unplanned occurrence – and find out why it happened and what could be done to prevent it happening again.
2. To investigate conditions that staff experience – such as back pain – to find out what activities are causing this or exacerbating it.
3. To discover the causes of industrial diseases – where people suffer from certain ailments that may be related to their working environment.
4. To reveal the root cause of injuries; for example, if someone injures their hand in machinery, the investigation may discover that they were not wearing their safety gloves – but, that wasn’t the cause of the accident. The root cause has everything to do with the process or the way in which the machinery is being used – everyone doesn’t get their hands trapped, even with gloves on, so something needs to change – maybe additional training in machine usage for the injured operator or the addition of safety guards on the machine.
Seeing incidents that don’t cause injury as ‘a lucky break’ is simply short-sightedness – and missing an opportunity to make your organisation more efficient, more effective and more profitable.