In our daily routine works, accident may occur that may results in fatality, injury or property loss. Many a time when accidents occur, the question we usually ask ourselves is; “How did it happen?” To answer such question and more, accident investigation team is assembled as soon as possible and it’s tasked with finding the major cause(s) that may have led to the accident.
Having the opportunity to work with different accident investigation teams, I’ve found these characteristics very common in most accident cases. These are;
1. Every Accident is caused, they don’t just happen. We often see accident as occurrences that happen unexpectedly but fail to add that it happens through our own cause, our own faults and through the cause of the surrounding condition which we ourselves have allowed. An employee who loses a tooth due to tripping and falling might have tripped on an object which should not have been placed where it was. In such situation, it is due to the carelessness of the employee that has caused him to lose a tooth. Like Shakespeare will put it; “The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves” that we are careless.
2. Somewhere, someone decided to take shortcut. During the cause of our work, we decide it is better we complete the schedules faster and as such disregard safety procedures. This exposes us to injuries or increases our chances of getting injured. Shortcuts are very tempting. Mostly we take shortcuts that do not result in injury and as such keep repeating it till one day we run out of luck. However tempting shortcuts may look, it is a sure way of opening the doorway to accidents and as such should be avoided.
3. Failure to Read the signs. Most accidents that happen on our sites usually happen after giving indications and signs. These signs come in the form of near miss. Near miss is very easy to disregard because of their nature. They are small and often insignificant and above all don’t result in injury or property damage. Due to this, we often let them go without investing energy and time to investigate and resolve it just like we would have done if it resulted in a major accident. Every near miss is a sign post to an impending disaster and most disasters happen because we failed to read the message the near miss brought.
4. Complacency. We are mostly opened to risk not because we are not aware of safety procedures but rather our complacent attitude towards work. We think it cannot happen to us because we have more ‘experience’. Immediately we begin to believe we are immune to certain accident, we begin to disregard procedures and cut corners to complete jobs.
5. Distractions. Most often, the happenings around our working environment may cause us to be distracted. Either a colleague talking to us and the same time operating a machine or even allowing personal issues at home interfere our focus on the work at hand. Such distractions make us drop our guard and make us susceptible to risk and dangers associated with the work we are doing.
There is no one single cause of accident. Accidents on our site may be caused by combination of factors which may include some of those discussed above or even outside the realm of what has been discussed here. No matter the nature of an accident, there’s the need for an investigation that can bring out the various causes so that mitigation measures could be build to avoid future recurrence.