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.
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
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.
- 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
- Job Hazard Analysis. OSHA Publication 3071, (Revised 2002). Also available as a 497 KB PDF, 50 pages. Explains what a job hazard analysis is and offers guidelines to help employers conduct their own step-by-step analysis.
- Safety and Health Management Systems. OSHA eTool. There are four crucial questions you should be asking when it comes to safety and health programs. The detailed answers are found in the four modules of this eTool.
- $afety Pays Program. OSHA, (2007, December). Assists employers in estimating the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses and the impact on a company's profitability.
- Safety and Health Management Program Guidelines; Issuance of Voluntary Guidelines. OSHA Federal Register Notice 54:3904-3916, (1989, January 26). These safety and health program management guidelines are for use by employers to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses.
- Safety and Health Add Value. OSHA Publication 3180. Also available as a 200 KB PDF, 6 pages. Describes how safety and health add value to your business, your workplace, and your life.
- For additional information, see OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Safety and Health Topics Page.
- Selected Occupational Fatalities/Catastrophes. OSHA.
- Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities (IIF): Statistics. US Department of Labor (DOL), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Provides statistical tables including incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry and selected case types.
- Mortality by Occupation, Industry, and Cause of Death: 24 Reporting States (1984-1988). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-114, (1997, June). Includes 192 cause-of-death categories, 325 occupation categories, and 235 industry categories.
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