Accident Investigation Practises

Accident Investigation Practices (pdf)

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ESReDA’s Working Group on Accident Investigation made a European enquiry about accident investigation practices. The aim was to clarify the state of the art of accident investigation practices among selected authorities and other individual organisations which might have been involved in formal accident investigation. The area of interest was investigations of accidents that happen in transport, production processes or storage of hazardous materials and energy production.

Most definitions of accidents are based on the extent of unwanted consequences in terms of health, environment and loss of property. There is a considerable reliance on corresponding accident definitions in national, EU or international legislation.

A clear majority of the organisations referred to a standard procedure of some kind for making the investigations. The procedure issue had a much higher priority than the choice of methods. There was a large variation of views on methods, both considering the use and the preferred type of method. There was no clear dominance for any specific method.

A conclusion was that an important task for the ESReDA working group on accident investigation is to make an overview of methods available for accident investigations. There is also a need to improve the evaluation of different methods. It was concluded that it is essential to collect and analyse different investigation procedures described in guidelines, as well as in official and other documents.


ESReDA (European Safety Reliability & Data Association) is a European Association established in 1992 to promote research, application and training in Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety (RAMS). The Association provides a forum for the exchange of information, data and current research on Safety and Reliability and a focus for specialist expertise.

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Chr. Kirchsteiger, L. Harms-Ringdahl, S. Røed-Larsen, T. Valvisto