Shaun Kelly, Tolman & Wiker, CALSAGA Preferred Broker

At the beginning of each year, I always reflect back on the prior year to see where I could have improved and identify which area of the operations need the most attention. In doing so, safety always comes to mind, because it involves all operations and has a significant effect on the overall efficiency and productivity on the business of my clients. Safety is a process that always needs to be updated and modified to maintain a safe workplace for your employees and others. This reminded me of accident investigations and how important they are in the safety process.

All accidents should be investigated and it’s for one simple reason, to stop them from happening again. This may sound quite basic but let’s put it into reality, the main purpose of an investigation is to identify the causation factors and then identify any preventative or corrective action to prevent reoccurrence.

There are many other reasons for investigating accidents including legal litigation, insurance claims, workers compensation, company reputation and sometimes contractual requirements.

Please understand and remember that any investigation has certain deliverables and expected outcomes. This is why we need to continually assess and evaluate safety policies and procedures throughout the investigation, so that we can proceed down the appropriate path.

To refresh your memory, the following are the basic stages in an accident investigation:





Establishing what is relevant and what is not can be time

consuming. However, this information can be obtained by:

  • Inspecting the immediate scene and equipment
  • Interviewing the person directly involved with the accident
  • Interviewing witnesses to the accident
  • Reviewing procedures and training


Inspecting the immediate scene and equipment:

The accident scene should be inspected as soon as possible

after the accident. Particular attention should be given to

the following to see if any of them had a bearing on the

accident potential:


  • Positions of people
  • Any personal protective equipment
  • Tools and equipment
  • Orderliness/tidiness
  • Procedures

Wherever appropriate, photographs and/or sketches should be

taken of the scene. This is of particular importance where

there is a likelihood of the scene being disturbed – e.g. to

make the area safe.



Ideally this should be done in familiar surroundings so as

not to make the person being interviewed feel uncomfortable.

If the person is not too seriously injured, then the accident

site is ideal as the person can explain what happened.

Remember this should be an interview to determine the facts

not an interrogation. Witnesses should be interviewed one at

a time.


Reviewing procedures and training:

The work procedures set out in appropriate guidance and any

risk assessments should examined to see if they existed and

were adequate, if they we were understood and followed.

It is also important to establish:


  • Any training received relevant to the accident
  • Any past incidents/accidents
  • Any risk assessments in relation to that particular

activity to see if any weaknesses have been previously identified.


Determine the causes:

After all the facts have been ascertained the causes can be



Obvious causes: The obvious causes are easy to find.

They are brought about by an unsafe act or condition. Unsafe

acts usually stem from poor safety attitudes and indicate a

lack of proper training or information.


Root Causes: These are personal or job factors that are

brought about by failures in organization and the

management’s safety program. This can include factors such


  • Lack of supervision or discipline
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of management awareness

Determine what changes are needed

The purpose the investigation is to prevent a reoccurrence.

To do this some practical measures must be recommended and

carried out that will demonstrate a commitment to reduce

this identified risk. The remedial action may be short and

/or long term and may involve changes to the physical

environment – e.g. putting in place new guarding on

machinery – and/or procedural changes – ensuring an adequate

training program.


Record findings

The findings of every accident investigation must be

recorded in a systematic way to enable the report to be read

by the appropriate people who are responsible for reviewing

and implementing necessary changes. It also provides a

historical record of the accident that may be useful in the



Communicate findings

Good communication is a very important part of the safety

effort. Information of an accident and remedial actions

should be passed to all relevant staff who may encounter

similar incidents.


Review action

Where action has been implemented as a means of reducing the

risk of an accident reoccurring, those actions must be

periodically reviewed to ensure that they remain



I have included a Sample Accident Investigation Form for your review. There are many different types of investigation forms available.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions and have a great 2019!

Click here to view a Sample Accident Investigation Form

Shaun Kelly joined Tolman & Wiker Insurance Services in 2005.  He specializes in all lines of property and casualty insurance for industries including contract security firms, agriculture, construction, oil and gas. Shaun received a BS in Business Administration with a major in Finance from California State University in Fresno, California. He is an active member of several industry associations, including the Association CALSAGA, the Kern County Builders Exchange and the Independent Insurance Agents of Kern County. Shaun can be reached at 661-616-4700 or