back to OSHA Safety and Health Topics

Page last reviewed: 10/30/2006
  • Medical Examiners [936 KB PDF*, 1 page] are asked to alert OSHA when work or the work environment may have caused or contributed to a death. 
  • Fatality and Catastrophe Investigation Summaries. Enables a user to search the text of Fatality and Catastrophe Investigation Summaries, also known as Accident Investigation Summaries (OSHA 170 form), for words that may be contained in the text of the abstract or accident description. These are developed after OSHA conducts an inspection in response to a fatality or catastrophe.
Subjectreplace - Copyright WARNING: Not all materials on this Web site were created by the federal government. Some content  including both images and text  may be the copyrighted property of others and used by the DOL under a license. Such content generally is accompanied by a copyright notice. It is your responsibility to obtain any necessary permission from the owner's of such material prior to making use of it. You may contact the DOL for details on specific content, but we cannot guarantee the copyright status of such items. Please consult the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress  to search for copyrighted materials.
Accident Investigation

Thousands of accidents occur throughout the United States every day. The failure of people, equipment, supplies, or surroundings to behave or react as expected causes most of them. Accident investigations determine how and why these failures occur. By using the information gained through an investigation, a similar, or perhaps more disastrous, accident may be prevented. It is important to conduct accident investigations with prevention in mind.

There are currently no specific standards for accident investigation.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, preambles to final rules (background to final rules) and directives (instructions for compliance officers) related to accident investigation.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Preambles to Final Rules


Conducting Accident Investigations

Safety Program

An effective safety and health program depends on the credibility of management's involvement in the program, inclusion of employees in safety and health decisions, rigorous worksite analysis to identify hazards and potential hazards, including those which could result from a change in worksite conditions or practices, stringent prevention and control measures, and thorough training. It addresses hazards whether or not they are regulated by government standards. The following references characterize and further explain safety and health programs.

Example Programs

  • Plain Language About Shiftwork. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-145, (1997, July). Discusses shiftwork and night work schedules in relation to tired/sleepy workers, possibly resulting in aggravating health conditions, and ways of coping with shiftwork.

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/OSHA Joint Accident Investigation Reports

General Resources

Accident Statistics

Additional Information

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

*These files are provided for downloading.