Investigation of Accidents, Injuries, and Illnesses

A female supervisor takes notes while farmworkers harvest melons
Photo credit: Hector Amezcua, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis

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by Isabel Flores Garcia, Education and Outreach Representative

Preventing injuries, illnesses, and harmful exposure before they occur is an important goal in the workplace. However, when accidents or “near misses” do occur, they provide a good opportunity to identify health and safety problems and target prevention efforts. 

Accident investigations must be conducted by:

  • Trained supervisors
  • Managers
  • Other knowledgeable persons

Goals of the investigation:

  • Understand why the incident or near miss occurred
  • What actions can be taken to prevent recurrence
  • Timeframe of when actions will be completed
  • Involve work leaders, such as those on the health and safety committee, to participate in the investigations 

The investigation report must be in writing and must adequately identify:

  • Who was injured 
  • Names of any witnesses
  • Cause(s) of the incident or near miss
  • Description of the underlying factors that may have contributed to it
  • What can be done to prevent the incident in the future

Taking the necessary steps after an incident or near miss occurs will help prevent future accidents and will also ensure that workers see the importance of safe practices in the workplace. 

Additional Resources


This article is based on the Worker Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program (WOSHTEP) administered by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation in the California Department of Industrial Relations through interagency agreements with the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California, Berkeley; the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at the University of California, Davis; and the Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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