TowSafe Tip

The Importance of Root Cause Analysis During Incident Investigation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) urge employers (owners and operators) to conduct a root
cause analysis following an incident or near miss at a facility.1 A root cause is a
fundamental, underlying, system-related reason why an incident occurred that
identifies one or more correctable system failures.2 By conducting a root cause
analysis and addressing root causes, an employer may be able to substantially or
completely prevent the same or a similar incident from recurring.

A simple, yet effective, way to identify root causes of an incident is to use the “Five Whys” method. In their fact sheet on root cause analyses, OSHA offers a helpful illustration of the “Five Whys” technique.

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