Investigation of accidents at work

The purpose of investigating accidents at work is to improve the prevention and investigation of occupational accidents and occupational diseases. This is achieved by investigating the events and causes of the damage and the severity of the consequences and by proposing recommendations for improving safety at work as based on the findings. Recommendations for improvement are made for both direct factors related to working environments and peoples’ actions as well as for indirect causes related to organisations’ activities.

Investigations of accidents at work are directed and supervised by an Accident Investigation Board appointed by TVK’s Board of Directors. Occupational safety experts at TVK direct the practical work of investigation teams and are responsible for administrative tasks.

Course of the investigation process

The investigation is launched when one of the occupational safety experts at TVK convenes an investigation team. A preliminary survey of the accident and preparatory work to assist the actual accident investigation (including visiting the site of the accident) can be launched by decision of the TVK expert or at the proposal of a member of the Accident Investigation Board. These preliminary measures can be undertaken before the Accident Investigation Board has issued a decision on launching the actual investigation.

The investigation team or, at minimum, the TVK expert leading the team visits the site of the accident as soon as possible. All members of the investigation team have the opportunity to take part in the visit, but the TVK expert may also authorise only one member or a part of the team to visit the site.

The primary objective of accident investigation work is to prevent similar cases from happening again. In other to achieve this objective, TVK reports on the results of the investigation as quickly as possible. The investigation report must be presented to the Accident Investigation Board for approval within a year of the Board’s decision to launch the investigation.  When the investigation team presents the report for approval, it also submits it for immediate publication. However, the Accident Investigation Board ultimately decides on the publication of the report. If the Accident Investigation Board does not approve the report for publication, it is sent back to the investigation team with proposals for changes. If the Accident Investigation Board deems it necessary to make clarifications to the report’s formatting or technical details, this must be communicated to the investigation team. In this case, the investigation team has the option to take the case back for further preparation before the report is published.

What types of accidents are investigated?

The Accident Investigation Board decides which cases are taken up for investigation. Experts at TVK propose cases for investigation to the Accident Investigation Board. In considering a case for investigation, the Accident Investigation Board pays particular attention to the following points:

  • seriousness and category of the accident
  • frequency of similar accidents and the likelihood of the accident being repeated
  • possible proposals by different stakeholders to perform an investigation
  • whether investigation can provide any important safety information
  • whether the accident put several people in danger at the same time
  • whether another stakeholder is investigating the accident.

When deciding whether to investigate a case, the Accident Investigation Board pays particular attention to whether the investigation can provide significant additional information to prevent similar accidents at work and dangerous situations. The promotion of overall safety at work is also a factor that affects whether a case is investigated.

In particular, cases taken up for investigation represent new risks and growth sectors as well as incidents that could have resulted in a major accident. Investigation teams also look at cases that are not studied sufficiently comprehensively by other experts.

The Accident Investigation Board also takes into consideration the severity and nature of the accident or hazard and evaluates the national and international impacts of the incident.

Investigation methodology

Occupational accident investigations follow an investigation method approved by the Accident Investigation Board. The investigation method is intended to systematically identify the root causes of the accident and issue recommendations in order to prevent similar cases from occurring again.

Read more about the accident investigation method in the occupational accident investigation handbook [Linkki käsikirjaan]

Reporting and communication

Investigation teams report on the results of investigations on a case-by-case basis in the manner they deem appropriate. In addition to conventional written publications, the reports may involve animations, video and other formats.

TVK is responsible for investigation-related communication approved by the Accident Investigation Board in accordance with the communication policy approved by the Board of Directors. Reports do not contain identifying information on individuals employers or employees. Published reports are also distributed to the employers of persons injured in the accidents and, in the case of joint work sites, to employers exercising principal control on the site. The report includes the names of the investigation team.

Accident investigation reports are published in the TOTTI system. Investigated cases are also listed in the system.

Published reports are freely available to the public. The system also records information on the course of the accident and risk factors. These do not contain any identifying information. Identifying information means personal information that may be used to identify individual companies, scenes of accident or persons.

Animations of occupational accidents

The Workers’ Compensation Center produces animations of cases of occupational accidents together with the Centre for Occupational Safety. Links to video's in Finnish site.