BOS 4601 Unit I Assessment

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Why is it important to include near misses in the accident investigation process? 

It is important to include near misses in the investigative process because, as Jeffrey Oakley points out in Accident Investigation Techniques (2012), the difference between a near miss and an accident is usually chance or even luck. By definition, a near miss is an occurrence in a sequence of events that had the potential to produce death, property damage, or injury but did not (Oakley, 2012). Because of the potential for this type of situation to happen again, near misses should be investigated as thoroughly as accidents so as to identify the conditions that lead to the near miss incident in question. Many agencies around the country utilize a reward or incentive program to recognize staff who report near misses. Proactive programs such as this capture data that can be used to provide a safer environment for all (NSC, 2013).


National Safety Council. 2013. Near Miss Reporting Systems. Retrieved from:

Oakley, J. S. (2012). Accident investigation techniques: Basic theories, analytical methods, and applications (2nd ed.). Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Professionals.

How do accident investigations help an organization avoid spending money in the future?

Accident and near-miss investigations save the organization money by being not only reactive and correcting was caused the situation at hand, but by being proactive in terms of updating policy & procedures so as to prevent future accidents from occurring (Oakley, 2012). For example, an organization may find the misuse / nonuse of safety equipment contributed to the accident happening following an investigation. Corrective action could be as simple and inexpensive as a safety reminder to all staff members regarding a certain piece of safety equipment being needed. This inexpensive reminder could then potentially save in future injury costs by someone who forgot or was not informed about the safety equipment requirement. As stated previously, near misses also need to be investigated as well because these near misses can assist in identifying an issue before a costly accident has occurred (Oakley, 2012).


Oakley, J. S. (2012). Accident investigation techniques: Basic theories, analytical methods, and applications (2nd ed.). Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Professionals.

Describe two characteristics of an effective accident investigation process that you feel are particularly important. Briefly explain your choices. 

Because an accident is the occurrence in a sequence of events that produces unintended injury, death, or property damage (Oakley, 2012), one characteristic of an effective investigation is properly detailing the sequence that occurred. Once that sequence is determined, the investigator must determine, through a structured process what causal factors took place and in what order. In doing so, he/she will be able to identify corrective actions or measures in an articulable fashion so as to move forward without repeating the same in the future (Oakley, 2012).

When conducting the investigation, taking into account and with complete understanding of what the reporter is saying is paramount. While differing accounts may be said, recognizing that human nature may be to minimize ones actions, great care should be taken during interviews to be through without placing blame. If an interview is done in such a way so as to immediately place blame or cast doubt on an individual, that person may be less forthcoming and could shut down. By utilizing a team approach in complex investigations, the investigator who is the subject matter expert in interviews and witness analysis should be assigned that task. If available, the subject matter expert in crush, for example, could then be used in identifying impact or crush zones. The team leader would then coordinate all efforts and ensure each are working toward the common goal with efficiency in mind (Oakley, 2012).


Oakley, J. S. (2012). Accident investigation techniques: Basic theories, analytical methods, and applications (2nd ed.). Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Professionals.

What steps must an organization take before an accident occurs to ensure it is prepared to conduct an effective accident investigation? 

There are several steps that must take place before an accident happens so an organization is prepared and will have the best chances for a successful outcome following an unfortunate event. The organization first must determine the level(s) of investigation it is going to undertake. There are different levels of accidents and different levels of accident investigations. Generally, most companies agree that the more serious the accident is, the more detailed and in-depth the investigation should be (Oakley, 2012). While organizations will often assign levels of value, often determined by risk value, the advanced investigator will handle them all the same; from the cut finger on a slicing machine to a fatality involving a dump truck. Some might say, while the number of steps involved may be less, the context behind a successful investigation should not be limited by severity of injury.

The next step in this process is to decide who will handle the investigations. Waiting until an accident occurs then trying to figure out who is going to handle it is too late. The organization also needs to decide if these investigations will be completed by a team or an individual. Whatever is decided, team or individual, the key is to empower that person(s) who is in the best position to find out exactly what happened and how best to prevent something similar from happening again (Oakley, 2012).

Deciding how much time will be allotted to investigators is often considered and can be difficult to plan for. Ultimately, putting time constraints on an investigation generally leads to less than ideal investigative process. That said, an organization cannot realistically be held hostage by an investigative team who is not producing answers. Ideally, companies should allow enough time for the investigators to not only find out what happened and how, but what changes need to be made so the issue does not happen again (Oakley, 2012).

Finally, most investigations following the typical work-place accident can be handled in-house and without many extra expenses (Oakley, 2012). However, in complex or special circumstances, allocating and budgeting for additional resources may be required. In some cases, experts in specialized fields may be needed and/or consultants may prove to be advantageous when purposing changes following an incident. Having a contingency plan for additional resources is prudent (Oakley, 2012).


Oakley, J. S. (2012). Accident investigation techniques: Basic theories, analytical methods, and applications (2nd ed.). Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Professionals.

In addition to identifying accident causal factors, what other benefits does an effective accident investigation process provide to a safety and health program?

Simply put, effective accident investigations provide answers as to why an accident occurred and corrective actions to prevent future occurrences. The goal of an effective process of not placing blame on any one or even a group of people, but rather determining the sequence of events and causal factor(s) while recommending corrective actions and updates to an overall safety program (Oakley, 2012). By identifying hazards, both realized and foreseeable, the enlightened investigator will be able to convey to administrators that an accident is but an opportunity to fix problems so they do not happen again. These adjustments allow for a safer workplace for employees and lowers risk for administrators and stakeholders.


Oakley, J. S. (2012). Accident investigation techniques: Basic theories, analytical methods, and applications (2nd ed.). Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Professionals.

Explain the four levels of accidents, providing an example of each. How are the categories different from each other?

Jeffrey Oakley, in his 2012 book, Accident Investigation Techniques, relates there are four levels of accidents and he categorizes them as; Near Miss, Minor Injury, Major Injury, and Catastrophic Injury. While taken at first glance, some might say that list is fairly self-explanatory, but in today’s day and age of litigation and deep pockets, most would agree that nothing but good things can come from complete, accurate, and proactive investigations.

Although related, these categories are independent and separate from each other. A near miss is an incident that could have potentially caused any type of accident involving damage to property, first-aid injury, or even something catastrophic such as a fatality. Near misses are different from the others in that they do not involve injury or damage, although they very well could have (Oakley, 2012).

A minor injury or first-aid case is one wherein a person has been injured, but can be treated on-scene and without a professional medical response. First-aid cases are different from the higher level injury cases because there is no need for a licensed medical professional to attend or treat the individual (Oakley, 2012). In a minor injury/first-aid case, an example would include an employee opening a letter with a letter-opener and poking him/herself with it. The injury caused discomfort and a bandage, but did not require stiches or treatment from EMS.

In major injury cases, a recordable injury resulted after an accident and that injury requires the attention of a licensed medical professional (Oakley, 2012). An example might include a set of tools falling on an employee that resulted in a laceration that requires stiches to close. The employee may also need a prescription for follow-up medication.

As opposed to major injury cases, a catastrophic injury involves those accidents wherein a person or persons were killed, major property damage resulted, and/or multiple people were injured at the same time (Oakley, 2012). An example might be a railway worker was cleaning the tracks and a train, which was supposed to stop for a red signal, continued on and struck the worker. If the worker was killed or sustained great bodily injury, this recordable case would be catastrophic.

Oakley, J. S. (2012). Accident investigation techniques: Basic theories, analytical methods, and applications (2nd ed.). Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Professionals.

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