Page 7 - WV811 2023 issue 1
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deal. If the investigation is concerned with the facts of the event, it means that even oversights or failures to perform will be noted. The good employee often tells me that everybody getting the same raise every year, no matter how well they perform isn’t fair and often irritating. Investigations identify the performance of the employee and in some companies,
the investigation becomes part of the employee evaluation at year’s end. A document that separates those who follow company policy and those who take shortcuts will create a baseline for success and higher morale within the workforce.
3. And one of the main reasons
we need to investigate damages is because the other side does. If you don’t investigate, a sloppy investigation performed by the other side will find you liable. From my experience, if
you performed a clear, concise and consistent damage investigation that focuses on the facts at hand, you’ll
have the best investigation. Why
you ask? Because most of the utility investigations I’ve reviewed are focused on fault-finding rather than fact-finding. They are “jumping to conclusions” based on what I think rather than what I see. The photos and sketches (if any
are included) do not tell the story of the damage.
Stakeholders should be taught that the goal of an investigation is not to find someone to blame, but to uncover the cause of the damage so that similar events can be avoided in the future.
The truth is that many times damage investigations fail to achieve their goal. There are many reasons for that, but lack of time, knowledge, desire and accountability are all roadblocks to completing a good damage investigation. Combat these issues by dedicating the time and training it takes to learn how to properly investigate the damage and identify the proximate cause. Create a safety culture that others can trust and that encourages compliance, and you’ll see a safer West Virginia.
The benefits of a consistent damage investigation are preventing reoccurrence of similar damages, preventing potential injuries, continuous improvement and an improved bottom line.
Consider these six steps for a successful damage investigation.
1. Develop a plan. When does the investigation start? Do you require photos or sketches? Do you have a
Damage Report Form? Who fills it out? Who gets it? Who and where is it filed? These and other considerations should be determined prior to the investigation. If you don’t have a plan, you can’t be consistent. If you don’t have a plan, you can’t hold one another accountable for not following the plan.
2. Assemble an investigation kit.
Your kit should contain everything you’ll need to conduct a thorough investigation. It would include note pads, pens, report forms, cameras, measuring device (tape measure, or the Rhino Hit Kit).
3. When and how to start the investigation. According to your plan... Remember, be consistent.
4. Collect the facts. Some of this
is common sense and some of it is training. Collecting the facts is best achieved by an investigator who is perceived as honest, curious, friendly and respectful. Being objective and analytical are excellent qualities that allow the investigator to write down what you see and what you hear. It may be necessary to ask questions (although sometimes the damage investigation occurs when no one is there). If you must interview someone, learn to be a
 2023, Issue 1 West Virginia 811 • 5

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