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Use these 'three Ws' when investigating a workplace accident

by , 10 July 2014
When an accident happens in your workplace, you must don your investigator's cap and start asking the right questions.

Just like Sherlock Holmes, you need to examine every detail. This is the only way you can identify the cause.

But when you pull out your detective's magnifying glass, remember to ask the 'three Ws'...

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You're not asking the right questions in your incident investigation, if you don't ask the 'three Ws'

The purpose of an incident investigation is to prevent the same workplace accident happening in future. And that's why you must direct all your questions to finding out the cause of the accident so you can prevent it.
There are four possible culprits that can cause accidents:
1. People;
2. Machinery and equipment;
3. Conditions or environment; and
4. Substances or materials.
If you fill in your incident report and can't say which of those caused the accident, it's because you didn't ask the 'three Ws'.
So what are the 'three Ws'?

These are the 'three Ws' that'll form the basis of your incident investigations 

1. Who?
Who suffered an injury because of the accidents? Who saw the accident? Who caused the accident? 
2. Where?
Where did the accident happen? Where was the safety officer? Where did the problem start?
3. Why?
Why did the accident happen? Why did your employee suffer an injury? 
With these questions you can, for example,  find out if the accident was the employee's fault. Or it happened because of where the employee was (by a piece of equipment or in a dangers are).
It's only once you know the cause that you can apply proper safety precautions. So always ask the 'three Ws' to get to the root of any workplace accidents.
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