The Importance of Industrial Accident Investigations

People can be assured of two things after an industrial accident occurs. The first is that something has failed, and the second is the fact that a Houston industrial accident attorney may be necessary. The failure could be the result of faulty machinery, dangerous environmental conditions, human error or the misuse of company equipment. Generally, chemical plant managers perform investigations after these accidents happen to determine their underlying causes. However, if the mishap did not result in property damages or bodily injuries, the managers may clean up the mess and bring everybody’s attention back to their work. If managers fail to properly document the causes of these incidents, they neglect to prevent them from occurring again in the future when serious bodily injuries could result. In this case, the plant’s owners may be determined to be liable for worker injuries, and the employee’s Houston refinery accident lawyer would be able to take them to court. The Purpose of the Investigation An effective industrial accident investigation helps property managers lower the plant’s operating expenses and increases worker safety. Although chemical plant owners complain that their Workers’ Compensation premiums are extremely high, research demonstrates that these costs are not the reason that employers are spending so much money. In actuality, the expense of repairing damaged property and losing injured workers costs employers five to 50 times more than premiums for Workers’ Compensation. Properties that experienced a Houston chemical plant accident, for example, are at the higher end of the aforementioned statistic. An incident is a mishap that does not cause damage or injury, but the three-phase accident investigation will reduce or even eliminate the risk that these will occur. The Three-Phase Accident Investigation Phase One Under phase one, the investigator gathers evidence by performing the following seven actions:

  1. Assign someone to be in control of the accident scene.
  2. Administer first aid, and calm those who were involved in the accident.
  3. Make sure that other people do not walk into the hazardous area.
  4. Identify potential evidence.
  5. Station other employees around the evidence so that it will not be disturbed.
  6. Determine how devastating the accident could have been and whether or not it can happen again.
  7. Tell the plant’s managers what occurred.

Phase Two In phase two, investigators will find out what the evidence has to say to them. They can make this easier by separating it into four different parts. 1. Position Evidence The first is position evidence, and it lets everyone know where key pieces of evidence were after the accident took place. Investigators preserve it by drawing rough sketches of the location or by taking pictures. 2. People Evidence Investigators must also gather people evidence, and they do this by conducting several interviews with those who were present at the time of the accident, designers who created the premises, people who ordered the plant’s materials and workers who have the most experience at the plant. 3. Parts Evidence When gathering parts evidence, investigators examine the equipment that was in use at the time of the accident. They also seek to learn about the plant’s guidelines for using these tools and if they have warning labels clearly printed on the outside. 4. Paper Evidence Lastly, investigators gather the paper evidence. This includes schedules, maintenance logs, training records and job procedures. Phase Three During phase three, investigators examine the four types of evidence and come to conclusions as to why the accident happened. They suggest what can be done to reduce the risks and prepare a report for the plant’s managers.