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Reviewing Incidents, Accidents, and New Misses

All work-related incidents, accidents, and near misses need to be reported according to your institutional policy, which typically involves completing an incident report within 24 hours of the occurrence. The critical next step is a review process to evaluate the event.

There are numerous incident reporting and recording criteria established by OSHA. There are essentially three categories of incidents for reporting/recording purposes – OSHA reportable incidents, OSHA recordable incidents, and incidents that are neither recordable nor reportable.

OSHA reportable incidents must be reported to OSHA within eight hours as stipulated in 29 CFR 1904.39. OSHA recordable incidents must be recorded on an OSHA 300 log as stipulated in 29 CFR 1904.1-1904.11. Incidents that are neither reportable nor recordable need only to be documented on the company’s incident report. OSHA holds employers responsible for informing their employees of how they can report an injury or illness.

All incidents should be documented on an incident report, which should be completed by the employee involved in the incident with the help of any witnesses and/or their supervisor within 24 hours of the incident. Incident reports should be completed by stating the facts, and leaving opinion and emotion out. Once the report is submitted to the personnel assigned in the established company policy, the review process should be initiated.

Many companies make it policy to have the safety committee review all incidents. It is important to evaluate the details of the conditions that led to the incident, what happened, how personnel responded, how the situation was handled, what was done right, what could have been done better, and how the incident can be prevented from occurring again. Gathering as much detail as possible provides for a deep dive into the cause, prevention, and an evaluation of what other measures need to be taken. The discussion should be anonymous, and the detail documented in the meeting minutes.

A training session to remind employees of safety measures in place may be needed, or it may be necessary to update the manuals/SOPs in place. All employees need to be trained on the incident reporting procedures during new employee training, and should be reminded of the procedures during annual training.

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