Accident investigation 101

07 May 2008

History has an uncanny way of repeating itself unless specific changes are not made to prevent this repetition.

A systematic approach to investigating a crane accident will give us the information to prevent similar accidents from re-occurring again.

For the most part, 80 to 90 percent of all accidents are behavioral-related, unsafe acts. In recent years, studies show that more than 50 percent of all crane accidents are due to crane set-up.

A 10-step accident evaluation program will provide why, when, who, what, and how the root cause of the accidents can be determined. Following these 10 steps and then identifying casual factors related to the equipment, environment, people and management will lead you to the corrective actions necessary to eliminate these accidents.

Training your employees and management along with implementing a safety system that holds them responsible and accountable will provide a safety culture that will prevent accidents. The ten steps above will be helpful in the event of a near miss or accident.

the basic 10 steps

1. Provide emergency response

2. Secure the area

3. ID potential witnesses

4. Use an investigation kit

5. Obtain evidence paper, materials, and recorded data

6. Conduct interviews

7. Review data

8. Prepare an investigation report

9. Implement corrective action

10. Follow up – monitor implementation

step 1 emergency response

• First priority is the safety and health of all people

• Notify emergency services: fire, rescue, medical and security

• Care for the injured (Use trained first-aid or medical services)

• Prevent other accidents

• Notify management, investigation team and insurance company

• Seek legal advice: Ask how to protect your information

step 2 secure the area

• Isolate the scene, using barricade tape or hard barricade

• Secure all evidence

• Contact crane investigation specialist if it's a major accident

• Begin to examine extent of damages, crane, equipment and facility

step 3 ID potential witnesses

• Establish people and employees involved

• Eyewitnesses

• People and employees who heard the accident

• People with useful information about the accident

step 4 use an investigation procedure and kit

• Camera or video camera

• Film

• Tape recorder

• Investigation forms

• Flashlight

• Barricade tape/cones

• Tags

• Locks

• Duct tape

• Measuring devices

• Sample container

step 5 obtain evidence paper, materials, and recorded data

• Accident investigation reports

• Supervisor reports

• Written and recorded witness statements

• OSHA logs

• Training records

• Drug testing results

• Maintenance records

• Load charts

• Sales quotes

• Lease agreements

• Insurance certificates

• Inspection reports

• Photos, videos

• Materials, pieces of equipment

step 6 conduct interviews

• Ask open-ended questions

• Use third party adjuster/investigator for large claims

• Avoid bias opinions

• Do not place blame or fault

step 7 review data

• Look at all data, materials, reports, inspections and records

• Identify any trends or patterns

• Analyze all data to determine root causes and casual factors

• Review with crane specialist, management, and supervisors

step 8 prepare an investigation report

• Record key facts in writing

• Summarize vital information

• Large claims secure legal advice to protect information

step 9 implement corrective actions

• Implement corrective actions and monitor results (Failure to follow-through can lead to criminal charges if accident re-occurs)

step 10 follow-up

• Are there patterns to these accidents?

• Are employees empowered to take individual actions?

• Are all managers and supervisors committed to hazard control?

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D.Ann Shiffler Editor, American Cranes & Transport Tel: +1 512 869 8838 E-mail:
Matt Burk VP Sales Tel: +1 312 496 3314 E-mail: