Better Accident Investigations Through Storytelling

  • Better Accident Investigations Through Storytelling
    February 18, 2021
    5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Better Accident Investigations Through Storytelling

Accident investigation reports often read like a tragicomedy of poor decision making, leaving investigators scratching their heads over how someone could possibly be so stupid! However, when those involved in the accident are more intensely questioned, they often report that those very stupid decisions felt very right the time. For the investigator, making sense of these so-called stupid decisions is vital to discovering the latent factors and attitudes at play in the accident sequence. In this break-out session, we will explore how telling the accident story from the perspective of those involved can allow investigations to be more useful for the promotion of accident prevention.

Session Objectives

The session will cover:

· How people make decisions and how decision making is involved in accident causation.

· How the relationship between workers and your organization’s systems, processes, and programs effects their decisions.

· Better questions to ask than repetitive “why’s” to get at the worker’s full accident story.

· How to use the story of an accident to make a lasting impression on employees and communicate preventative actions in a way that sticks.


Jennifer Serne is an Assistant Professor in the Safety Health Management program at Central Washington University.  She teaches classes covering Hazardous Materials Management, Fire Safety, Incident Investigation, Emergency Response, Construction and Manufacturing Safety, Safety Analysis Systems, and Ergonomics and Human Factors. Previously, she worked for 20 years in the safety industry in research safety, pharmaceutical safety, radiation safety, and emergency response and was the lead inspector of medical and research facilities using radioactive materials in Washington State. She has also been an independent fatality investigator, serving various clients in 36 states and 6 countries. She has a Masters in Safety Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and is working towards her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Human Factors.

Venue:   Virtual

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