Accident Investigation: Tips for the Interview


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Accident Investigation: Tips for the Interview

When an accident occurs, it is the employers responsibility to thoroughly investigate the incident to prevent it from happen again. Accident investigations are critical in discovering the root cause of any accident, as well as to continuously control your workers’ compensation costs. If you did not personally witness the accident, the only way to learn what happened is to conduct interviews with the employees who witnessed it. Interviewing employees can be tricky and asking the right questions will allow you to get a clear view of what actually happened. Below are some tips that will help you get complete, accurate answers from your employees after an accident.

1) Sometimes employees are nervous to answer questions because they fear the blame will be shifted to them. To ease their nerves, explain that you are only trying to get to the bottom of the situation. Try to avoid asking “Why did this happen?” and ask it differently: “What happened? How do you think this happened? And, can you explain what you saw?”

2) To make sure that you, as a supervisor or owner, understand how the accident happened employ the following methods.

• Ask your employees to describe what happened.

• Try to understand the details from every perspective and ask for clarification with “Tell me more”

• Listen and test your comprehension. For example ask, “So, am I correct in understanding that ….?”

And follow up with, “I think I understand. Can you show me?”

3) It is extremely important to obtain “why” information tactfully. Here are some good, non-leading questions to ask witness employees and the injured worker:

• What did you see? Hear?

• What did you notice first?

• What parts/tool were they using; where did this happen; what postures did the injured employee use; was there job rotation and if so how often?

• Were you working with anyone else?

• What else were you involved in before the injury?



Accident investigations would not be complete without interviewing witness employees and the injured employee. If you have any questions about conducting a successful interview for an accident investigation, or would like more information on how to control your workers’ compensation costs, contact the Flanders Group today.

Accident Investigation – The Six Key Questions


Question 1: WHO

  1. Who was injured? Who saw the accident?

  2. Who was working with him/her?

  3. Who had instructed/assigned him/her?

  4. Who else was involved?

  5. Who else can help prevent recurrence?

Question 2: WHAT

  1. What was the accident?

  2. What was the injury?

  3. What was he/she doing?

  4. What had he/she been told to do?

  5. What tools was he/she using?

  6. What machine was involved?

  7. What operations was he/she performing?

  8. What instructions had he/she been given?

  9. What specific precautions were necessary?

  10. What specific precautions was he/she given?  Did he/she use?

  11. What protective equipment was he/she using?

  12. What had other persons done that contributed to the accident?

  13. What problem or question did he/she encounter?

  14. What did he/she or witnesses do when accident occurred?

  15. What extenuating circumstances were involved?

  16. What did he/she or witnesses see?

  17. What will be done to prevent recurrence?

  18. What safety rules were violated?

  19. What new rules are needed?

Question 3: WHEN

  1. When did the accident occur?

  2. When did he/she start on that job?

  3. When was he/she assigned to the job?

  4. When were the hazards pointed out to him/her?

  5. When had his/her supervisor last checked on job progress?

  6. When did he/she first sense something was wrong?

Question 4: WHY

  1. Why was he/she injured?

  2. Why did he/she do what he/she did?

  3. Why did the other person do what he/she did?

  4. Why wasn’t protective equipment used?

  5. Why weren’t specific instructions given to him/her?

  6. Why was he/she in the position he/she was?

  7. Why was he/she using the tools or machine he/she used?

  8. Why didn’t he/she check with his/her supervisor when he/she noted things weren’t as they should be?

  9. Why did he/she continue working under the circumstances?

  10. Why wasn’t supervisor there at the time?

Question 5: WHERE

  1. Where did the accident occur?

  2. Where was he/she at the time?

  3. Where was the supervisor at the time?

  4. Where were co-workers at the time?

  5. Where were other people who were involved at the time?

  6. Where were witnesses when accident occurred?

Question 6: HOW

  1. How did he/she get hurt?

  2. How could he/she have avoided it?

  3. How could co-workers have avoided it?

  4. Could supervisor have prevented it? How?


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