OSHA Investigations of Workplace Accidents – A Primer

Written by Greg on April 4, 2015

OSHA Investigations

One inevitable truth of working in a labor intensive environment is that accidents may occur due to the extreme working conditions. However, the company should do everything in its power to mitigate potential problems as much as possible. To this extent, according to United States law, companies must adhere to the United States Department of Labor standards, as per the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. These guidelines largely have to do with training, maintenance of equipment, placement, and other important factors that are designed to prevent accidents from occurring.


As noted by OSHA, one of the most essential aspects of creating these guidelines is also to investigate the most common accidents and incidents in order to ensure that the platform OSHA sets is congruent with what is seen in the workplace. To that end, according to OSHA, “in response to the need for descriptive data on how fatal workplace incidents occur, the Division of Data Analysis has been conducted.”


This analysis gives an overview of what kind of accidents are occurring, their type, and what probable measures lead to an increased amount of incidents.


Types Of On The Job Incidents

The type of incident, prior to the fatality, has been examined in order to create better guidelines. These incident types are as followed:


  • Operating Procedures: This incident has come as a direct result of the employee or the employer not following work and safety regulations; or, there were no regulations in place. This includes, but is not limited to; safeguarding the area, behavioral considerations, wearing protective equipment, etc.
  • Equipment/Material/Facility Related: The equipment that has been used is malfunctioning to a certain degree. In addition, this also includes hazardous materials, structure collapses, and so forth.
  • Environment Conditions: This is as a result of weather conditions, generally unusual onsets. This includes excessive heat or coldness, heavy rains, gusty winds, and so forth.
  • Other: This refers to any incident that does not fit the aforementioned types.

What this information showcases is that, by splitting up these incidents into the above classifications, OSHA will be able to better investigate each individual case and the circumstances that surround them. For example, when looking at operating procedures, and focusing on this as a singular category, OSHA can then determine where the discrepancy lies, such as the company not having strategic safety measures in place to begin with, and how to best create guidelines that minimize it.


OSHA’s overview and analysis also relays specific cases and incidents that can be used for further study. Each is explained with the type of incident, who it has involved, the date of incident, a description, and the standards that relate to the incident itself. For an organization or an employee that works in a labor intensive industry, this can be especially important as it allows individuals to become more privy about what the standards are, what kind of shortcomings exist for them to be overlooked.


In short, understanding and studying this analysis will allow incidents to be prevented in the future.


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