The Ultimate Guide on OSHA Accident Investigation (And What To Do)

The term “accident,” used interchangeably with “incident”, refers to an unplanned, random event that causes harm such as an injury, illness or even fatality. When it comes to occupational safety, employers should prevent accidents as much as possible.

Therefore, an OSHA accident investigation procedure has been developed that employers must follow to identify the hazards in their workplace immediately after the incident occurred and implement measures to reduce the risk of future incidents. 

Here’s what you need to know about 

osha accident investigation

Which Incidents in the Workplace Require Accident Investigations?

According to OSHA standards, there are certain accidents that require incident investigation.  Recordkeeping must be done by filling out OSHA 300 and 300A forms and be kept for at least five years at the worksite.

Serious Injury

Serious Exposure



Close Call

Which Incidents in the Workplace Don’t Require Accident Investigations?

All accidents and incidents – regardless of intensity – must be investigated. The accident investigation process aids employers in looking beyond what happened to determine why it happened so they can correct and prevent future shortcomings.

There are limited incidents that don’t require incident investigation, including:


Take note that workplace injuries and illnesses that don’t require investigation still need to be recorded.

osha accident investigation

What Should Be Done if an Accident Investigation Is Required?

A workplace’s safety committee and management are responsible for any incident investigation. 

Employees must be made aware of who these people are and should be directed to report incidents compromising occupational safety and health to them immediately. All injuries, illnesses and close calls must be reported.

The safety committee and management must perform the incident investigation as soon as possible after it has been reported. Doing so quickly can prevent:


Take note that the accident scene must be assessed and declared safe before investigators may proceed.

How To Investigate the Root Cause Compromising Occupational Safety

The root causes of an incident are interlinked and are grouped into categories: task, material, environment, personnel, and management.


This category refers to the task being performed when the incident occurred.


This category addresses the equipment and materials used.

Work Environment

This category is used to assess what caused an abnormal work environment.


This category questions the employee whose safety and health was compromised.


This category holds management and the systems they’ve put into place accountable.

These questions should be followed up with “why not” if the answer indicates unsafe work practices or incidents.

Performing a root cause analysis as part of the incident investigation is crucial to developing a plan of corrective actions to prevent any future incidents.

osha accident investigation

How Insure Compliance Can Help

At Insure Compliance, we offer a unique Safety Gap Model to identify the safety gaps in your company and provide strategies to overcome them. 

When it comes to incident investigation, the five gaps are as follows:

  • Awareness gap: do you as the employer understand how to perform an accident investigation in the workplace?
  • Process gap: are there policies and procedures documented that have been put in place?
  • Knowledge gap: have employees been trained as a means of reinforcing these policies?
  • Verification gap: is the workplace inspected to observe the behavior of employees? 
  • Accountability gap: are workers being held accountable for violating any workplace policies?


We offer incident investigation training to help you:

Key Takeaways

As an employer, you need to know which situations in the workplace do and don’t require an incident investigation. Serious injuries, serious exposure, catastrophes, fatalities and close calls require incident investigation, but anything simply requiring first aid does not. 

If an incident investigation is required, employees should report it to the safety committee immediately so that the investigation can commence as soon as possible.

Questions surrounding the task, material, work environment, personnel and management must be asked to identify the root causes. Identifying the root causes is crucial to creating and implementing corrective plans.

Insure Compliance offers extensive training and can help you identify the safety gaps in the workplace. Contact us today, and we’ll help you bridge your safety gaps to reach OSHA compliance and increase workplace morale.


Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to businesses. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal, safety or business advice. You should, where necessary, seek your own advice for any issues raised in your affairs.


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