Fishbone Analysis: Accident Investigation Method

Fishbone Analysis: Accident Investigation Method
Photo by Samarth Singhai on

Fishbone Analysis: Accident Investigation Method

Accidents can have severe consequences in various industries, often leading to injuries, loss of life, and significant financial implications. To prevent future occurrences and enhance workplace safety, it’s crucial to investigate accidents thoroughly. One effective method for such investigations is the Fishbone Analysis, also known as the Ishikawa or Cause-and-Effect Diagram. In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Fishbone Analysis as a powerful tool for accident investigation.


Accidents are unfortunate events that can disrupt operations, cause harm, and result in substantial financial losses. To prevent their recurrence, businesses must investigate accidents meticulously. Fishbone Analysis, developed by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, is a visual technique that helps identify the root causes of an incident, enabling organizations to make informed changes to their processes and procedures.

Understanding Fishbone Analysis

Fishbone Analysis gets its name from its appearance, resembling a fish’s skeleton. The analysis helps dissect a problem into its underlying causes. By exploring these causes, organizations can determine why an incident occurred and implement corrective measures effectively.

Benefits of Fishbone Analysis

Fishbone Analysis offers several benefits for accident investigation. It encourages a structured approach, involving cross-functional teams, to uncover the root causes. This collaborative effort fosters a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand and facilitates knowledge sharing among team members.

Key Elements of Fishbone Analysis

A Fishbone diagram consists of key elements, including:

  • Problem Statement: Clearly define the incident or problem that requires investigation.
  • Categories: These are the major cause categories that contribute to the problem. Common categories include People, Process, Equipment, Environment, and Management.
  • Causes: Under each category, identify potential causes that might have led to the incident.

Steps to Conduct Fishbone Analysis

  1. Form a Team: Gather individuals from various departments who possess knowledge about the incident.
  2. Define the Problem: Clearly state the incident that needs investigation.
  3. Create the Diagram: Draw the Fishbone diagram with the defined problem at its head.
  4. Identify Causes: Brainstorm and list potential causes within each category.
  5. Analyze and Prioritize: Evaluate each cause’s significance and interrelation with the incident.
  6. Identify Root Causes: Narrow down the causes to identify the core issues that triggered the incident.
  7. Develop Solutions: Formulate solutions to address the root causes.
  8. Implement Changes: Execute the recommended solutions and monitor their effectiveness.

Real-world Application

Fishbone Analysis finds application in various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, construction, and aviation. For instance, in manufacturing, it can be used to determine the causes of equipment breakdowns or quality control issues.

Comparing Fishbone Analysis with Other Methods

While there are several accident investigation methods, Fishbone Analysis stands out due to its visual nature and holistic approach. Unlike simple cause-and-effect analyses, Fishbone diagrams allow teams to explore multiple factors and their relationships.

Addressing Challenges in Fishbone Analysis

Fishbone Analysis isn’t without its challenges. It requires a dedicated team, time for brainstorming, and can sometimes oversimplify complex problems. However, these challenges can be overcome through proper planning and facilitation.

Fishbone Analysis in Different Industries

Fishbone Analysis is versatile and can be adapted to various industries. For example, in healthcare, it can help identify causes of medical errors, while in the service sector, it can uncover reasons for customer service failures.

Continuous Improvement and Fishbone Analysis

The insights gained from Fishbone Analysis don’t only lead to incident resolution but also contribute to continuous improvement efforts. By addressing underlying causes, organizations can enhance their processes and prevent similar incidents.

Implementing Fishbone Analysis in Your Organization

To implement Fishbone Analysis effectively, organizations should invest in training employees, providing necessary tools, and creating a culture of safety and improvement.

Common Misconceptions About Fishbone Analysis

  1. Limited Applicability: Fishbone Analysis can be used in various contexts beyond manufacturing.
  2. Solely Identifying Causes: The goal is to identify root causes and develop solutions, not just list causes.
  3. Quick Fixes: Fishbone Analysis might reveal complex issues that require thoughtful solutions, not quick fixes.


Fishbone Analysis offers a robust methodology to investigate accidents comprehensively. By delving into the root causes of incidents, organizations can take informed actions to prevent future occurrences and improve their overall processes and systems.

Bow Tie Analysis: Accident Investigation Method

Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA): Accident Investigation Method

Root Cause Analysis: Accident Investigation Method

Difference between Accident and Incident in the workplace

5 Why Analysis: Accident Investigation Method


  1. Is Fishbone Analysis only suitable for large industries? Fishbone Analysis can be adapted by businesses of all sizes and across industries to enhance their incident investigation process.
  2. How long does it take to complete a Fishbone Analysis? The duration varies based on the complexity of the incident and the effectiveness of the brainstorming process.
  3. Can Fishbone Analysis be used proactively? Absolutely. Fishbone Analysis can be employed proactively to identify potential vulnerabilities and prevent incidents.
  4. Are the identified root causes always accurate? While Fishbone Analysis is a structured approach, the accuracy of identified root causes depends on the thoroughness of the investigation.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here