On occasion, something bad will happen during a project. Afterward, you may consider investigating the incident. People often hesitate to evaluate a situation, to determine if they could or should have acted differently to avoid an accident. They may be afraid of taking responsibility. Investigations are important, however, because they help you prevent the same thing from happening again. Here are five reasons to perform an investigation after each incident you encounter.
Get the Facts
Right after an incident or near miss is the best time to sit down and think through the actions that led to the problem. Once people get a week or two past the fact, they may forget some details or crucial failures that triggered the incident. It’s important for business owners to take a collaborative approach, not a punitive one. In short, if you want to get all the information, you need to have everybody on the same page. Make sure that your employees understand that they won’t be punished for working with you to get more information because they’ll be more likely to come forward to report incidents that way.
As you go through the steps before, during, and after the incident, you may spot some obvious problems. In the moment, it can be really easy to get frustrated or start to point fingers at people who may have made mistakes. Instead, going through the incident investigation helps you to highlight anything that went wrong, as well as the effect that it caused. Sometimes the investigation brings up issues with your workflow that you didn’t even know you had. A lack of clarity on safety practices or industry standards could be relatively easy to correct, but only if you know that what you’re doing right now is insufficient.
By this point, you’ll probably have a set of circumstances that can help you to identify the causes of the problem. If A led to B, which caused C, the investigation allows you to examine what made A and B more likely to happen. For example, a consistent under-use of PPE in certain high-risk tasks might prompt you to realize that you’re not storing the PPE in the right place. Making it easier to access could increase the rate of use, lowering the risk of injury. At this point, it’s good to brainstorm several possible causes for each failure.
If the investigation brings up a variety of causes of the incident, you can use that information to start coming up with solutions. It’s a good idea to get input from your workers, especially those who were related to the incident. They may have important context that you need in order to truly understand the problem and create a solution that is most likely to work. The investigation doesn’t always point to an obvious solution, which means that you may need to try out more than one. Having all the relevant facts will pave the way.
Avoid Future Concerns
Whenever you read about a serious accident in construction, you’ll probably notice that there were a lot of failures that happened before it turned into a catastrophe. If you want to avoid these kinds of problems, you have to be willing to challenge each failure as it happens. Sweeping it under the rug and hoping that it won’t be a problem only creates a culture in which workers are disincentivized to report unsafe behavior or problematic practices. If you invest the time to investigate it honestly from the beginning, you’ll be more likely to prevent the situation from happening again.
No one enjoys handling incidents, but the investigation can help you build a better contracting business. To learn more about the path to becoming a licensed contractor, visit CSLS today!