In our latest installment of Ask the Expert, brought to you by the team of industry experts at EHS Hero®, we look at a recent question from a subscriber asking whether OSHA requires employee training on evidence preservation following an accident. See what the experts had to say.
Q: Is there an OSHA regulation that states an employer must train employees on evidence preservation if there was an accident?
There is no OSHA regulation that specifically requires employee training on evidence preservation following an accident. (New Mexico has incorporated federal OSHA standards by reference.) However, as a matter of best practice, such training may be advisable for some or all employees. Employers are required to inform employees of the procedures and policies for reporting a work-related injury (29 CFR 1904.35(b)(1)(ii). Instruction in how to proceed following an accident with regard to evidence preservation and other relevant considerations could be incorporated into this training.
In addition, for certain severe incidents that must be reported to OSHA (fatalities, inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye loss incidents), OSHA may respond by conducting an on-site investigation itself or requiring the employer to conduct a root cause analysis of the incident and submit the findings along with evidence of corrective actions. Practically speaking, instructing employees on what to do following an incident, including how to handle the accident scene to preserve evidence for an investigation, is likely to facilitate a more effective root cause analysis. However, any such instruction should emphasize that employee safety is always a higher priority than preserving evidence, and employees should never place themselves or others in danger for the purpose of preserving evidence.
You may find the following BLR resources useful:
- Accident Investigation Plan
- Accident Investigation training PowerPoint presentation
- On-demand webinar: Root Cause Analysis: Reduce the Risk of Future Accidents Using OSHA’s Incident Investigation Process
Ask the Expert is a service provided to subscribers of BLR®’s EHS Hero product, where experts are ready with answers to your organization’s unique questions surrounding EHS compliance. To learn more and request a trial of EHS Hero, click here.