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What is an OSHA investigation?

When a workplace accident has resulted in death or injury, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration may be involved in investigating the incident. If you have been involved in a workplace accident, you may wonder what an OSHA investigation entails and what an employer investigation might look like? Employers are encouraged to investigate workplace accidents. OSHA notes that nearly all workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses are preventable and uses the term incident to refer to preventable workplace accidents.

OSHA accident investigations provide an opportunity for employers to identify hazards and shortcomings in their workplaces and in their safety and health programs. Doing so allows employers to implement corrective actions to prevent future incidents and create safer workplaces for their workers. Employers have an obligation to create a safe workplace free of hazards and investigations into incidents can help them fulfill that obligation.

OSHA encourages employers to conduct investigations into accidents and notes the importance of involving both supervisors, manager and employees in the investigation process. It is important to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the root cause of the incident and how it took place. It is helpful to determine if procedures or safety rules were not followed, what they were; if production pressures contributed to the accident; if the procedure antiquated or the safety training inadequate; and if the problem was previously identified, why was it not corrected?

When workers have been injured or otherwise harmed in a workplace accident, investigations can be important to determine what happened and ensure a safe workplace moving forward but it is also important for injured workers and their families to be familiar with the workers' compensation, and other, options that may be available to help them. Different protections are in place for the benefit of injured workers and their families and they should be familiar with all of them.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Incident Investigation," Accessed Oct. 11, 2017

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