When To Conduct an Accident/Incident Investigation

Can-OSHA-Re-Open-Closed-InvestigationsAll incidents, whether a near miss or an actual injury-related event, should be investigated. Near miss reporting and investigation allow you to identify and control hazards before they cause a more serious incident. Accident/incident investigations are a tool for uncovering hazards that either were missed earlier or have managed to slip out of the controls planned for them. It is useful only when done with the aim of discovering every contributing factor to the accident/incident to “foolproof” the condition and/or activity and prevent future occurrences. In other words, your objective is to identify root causes, not to primarily set blame.


  • ACCIDENT – The National Safety Council defines an accident as an undesired event that results in personal injury or property damage.
  • INCIDENT – An incident is an unplanned, undesired event that adversely affects completion of a task.
  • NEAR MISS – Near misses describe incidents where no property was damaged and no personal injury sustained, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage and/or injury easily could have occurred.

via Safety and Health Management Systems eTool | Module 4: Creating Change – Safety and Health Program Management: Fact Sheets: Accident/Incident Investigation.