Do accidents happen or occur? It’s the first question to roll off the lips of our fleet safety instructors during any safety training program. The answers vary, with about sixty percent saying they occur while the other forty percent say they happen. The answer to this question lies in the definition of the words “happen” and “occur.” These intransitive verbs are similar and nuanced at the same time. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, these verbs have the following meanings:

Occur – to come into existence

Happen – to occur by chance

With the meanings above, we ask the classroom the same questions again. Do accidents happen or occur? At this time, about ninety percent of the class says they occur. The class understands what is widely accepted in the safety community: over ninety percent of accidents are due to human error. And by our definition, accidents occur and do not happen. What are some of the things we say happen? Things that are clearly out of our control, such as bad weather, earthquakes, or pandemics.

If we know that accidents occur primarily due to human error, we can take steps to mitigate them as much as possible, knowing in the back of our minds that they can still occur. When accidents occur, even after taking precautionary steps, our duty as safety personnel is to investigate the accident to discover the surface and root causes for future preventive measures.

Hazards exist in every workplace, and that’s why risk control measures are put in place to reduce the risks to an acceptable level or to eliminate the risk, thereby preventing accidents or cases of ill health.

Your organization’s priority is to learn from adverse events, failures, or near misses when they occur to save lives and significant expenses.

Information and insights gained from an investigation

·     You gain an accurate understanding of how and why things went wrong

·     An understanding of the ways people can be exposed to conditions that may affect their health

·     An accurate snapshot of what happens and how work is really done. (There is a vast difference between planned work and how it is carried out). Your organization should find that gap and build safety defenses around it. Also, workers may find shortcuts to make their work easier and quicker and ignore rules.

·     You are identifying deficiencies in your risk control management, which will enable you to improve your risk management in the future and learn lessons that will apply to other parts of your organization.

3 Reasons to Investigate Accidents

1.    Legal Obligations

2.    Moral Obligations

3.    Financial Obligations

1.    Legal Obligation

Most countries have laws with legal ramifications for accidents that occur. As a business, you must ensure your organization operates within the law. You must plan and continually review your health and safety arrangements. Your business could be disrupted if, after an investigation, your company was found guilty of any charges. Loss of reputation in the public eye could cost you significant revenue losses when your existing clientele pulls out and goes to your competitors. Also, your executives risk jail sentences if found guilty of any charges. Legal fees can be costly and can easily bankrupt any business.

2.    Moral Obligation

Most people would rather work in an organization that cares about its employees than work in a higher-paying job in a company that doesn’t. The best-performing companies do so mainly because of the people they hire. Many CEOs attribute their awards and revenues to the quality of their hires rather than how fancy their office spaces look. As an organization, you have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure a safe working environment, including systems for your employees. It is unacceptable for your employees to risk their safety because they work for you. Your workplace should be known as something other than where ill health and bodily injury occur frequently. The best hires always work in a safe environment where they are valued and find fulfillment in their jobs. Losing your best hires means losing revenue.

3.    Financial Obligation

Most businesses operate to increase revenue and market share and reduce costs. Accidents can be very costly when you factor in damaged equipment, hospital bills, funerals, fines, lawsuits, rising insurance premiums, downtime, etc. Irrespective of how much profit your business generates, the cost of adverse events can decimate your earnings overnight. Many large organizations have gone bankrupt due to lawsuit settlements. As a leader in your company, having defenses or risk control measures is not optional. Leaders must add cost reduction as part of their managers’ or executives’ KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Your company thrives if you can keep costs as low as reasonably possible.

Benefits of an accident investigation

Prevention is better than cure because it is cheaper and safer. You can cheaply avert any potential adverse event in the case of near misses or by learning from accidents in other companies. Any company that heralds safety garners good publicity and can gain the best employees. Your employees see your company as a place where their safety is valued. Generally, employees who feel valued perform better. As a business, you identify the deficiencies in your risk control management, and you can optimize risk management for future reference. Also, the risk management skills learned can be transferred to other parts of your organization.

Every organization must investigate failures, near misses, and adverse events as they occur. You gain invaluable information when these investigations are carried out, saving your organization vast sums of money and ultimately leading to a thriving business.

If you’re looking to save vast sums of money and lives, we can help you run your fleet operations efficiently. Say bye-bye to the hidden costs of basic fleet safety management controls. Basic controls are costing you more than you think. Email or call us now at +233 55 559 5632 / +233 20 834 1713

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