When a workplace accident occurs, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that there should be an investigation of the incident. This includes accidents that cause property damage only, as well as those involving worker injuries. 

The extent of the investigation depends on how serious the accident is. 

Fatalities and injuries

If the accident results in injuries requiring hospitalization for three or more workers, or if a worker suffers a fatal injury, the investigation is mandatory. Identification of all the causal factors is essential to eliminating further harm. Until the inspectors arrive, no one should tamper with the scene except to take necessary safety precautions to make sure other employees and the public do not sustain injuries. 

The report on the investigation

Documentation regarding the accident should state the date and time it occurred, as well as the location. Other relevant information in the report may include the following: 

  • A description of the accident 
  • A description of the operations 
  • Photographs 
  • Witness and employee interviews 
  • Measurements of elements of the scene 

Copies of the report should go to the official who is managing or overseeing the workplace, the committee in charge of safety and health, and the employee representative if there is one. The Secretary of Labor may request a copy of the report. 

OSHA standards

The investigation may reveal that no OSHA standard addresses the safety issue. Alternately, evidence may indicate that an existing standard was unhelpful, inadequate or even contributed to the accident. 

The Secretary should receive this information for consideration immediately. Addition, modification or elimination of a standard may be necessary. The OSH Act of 1970 mandates that the Secretary also has the authority to enter the workplace and investigate personally.