Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
All incidents, regardless of size or impact, need to be investigated. Whether it is a fatality, injury, illness or a close call, an effective incident investigation and report process helps employers understand what happened and why it happened. It presents an opportunity to identify operational hazards and shortcomings in the safety and health programs. Most importantly, it enables employers and workers to identify and implement the corrective actions necessary to prevent future incidents.
Incident investigations that focus on identifying and correcting root causes improves workplace morale and increases productivity, by demonstrating an employer’s commitment to a safe and healthful workplace. It also helps the organisation to save money when investigations are carried out as incidents are costly. The National Safety Council estimates that preventing a workplace injury can save an average of $39,000 and preventing a fatality saves more than $1.4 million. Excluding the direct costs of incidents which are workers’ compensation claims, the indirect costs that affect the organisation include production loss, delayed timelines, increased administrative time (for emergency response, investigations, claim processing and others), lower morale and corporate reputation.
- Clearly state easy‐to‐ follow written procedures
- Provide for personnel to be trained on incident investigation and company procedures
- Offer collaboration between workers, worker representatives, and management
- Focus on identifying root cause(s), not on establishing fault
- Emphasize correcting root cause(s)
- Implement timely corrective actions based on investigation findings
- Provide for an annual program review to identify and correct program deficiencies and identify incident trends
When an incident occurs, it is important that workers have a clear procedure on what to do next. Generally, it begins by assessing the damage and by cordoning off the access to the incident area. This prevents the risk of it happening to the rest of the team. Proper care and attention is then needed to the injured, such as giving out first aid and proper treatment of the injuries. Afterwhich, the incident investigation process can take place.
The person leading the investigation should be one with authority to put in place immediate corrective action once the investigation is completed. He/She must be neutral and not belong to the team involved in the incident. Depending on the size and complexity of the incident, the investigation team can include people from different levels of the company (e.g., worker, supervisor, engineer). However, the supervisor needs to be involved as he knows the work area and processes well and represents the first-level management of the company.
The next step in the process is to write down details of the incident, with special attention to the unsafe acts and conditions of the workplace. it is also important to review current related documents such as safe work procedures, safety data sheets, maintenance logs and employee records. This is part of the risk analysis procedure, or also known as root cause analysis, to determine the cause. Next, the team will discuss and choose the right corrective actions to be taken. It is also important that the management is involved in this process as the measures need to be implemented as soon as possible.
- Workplace Safety and Health Council – Investigating Workplace Incidents for SMEs
- HSE UK Investigating Accidents and Incidents – A Workbook for Employers, Unions, Safety Representatives and Safety Professionals
- The Safety Library – Accident Investigation
- Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore – A Guide to Workplace Safety and Health (Incident Reporting) Regulations
- Singapore Civil Defence Force – Guidelines for Company Emergency Response Plan
Effective Incident Investigation and Reporting is a 3-day training course held from 27-29 January 2020 (Dubai), 15-17 February 2020 (Qatar) and 6-8 April 2020 (Kuala Lumpur). Delegates will achieve a comprehensive overview of incident investigation and reporting that is aligned with most regulatory requirements and learn how to use effective investigation and interviewing techniques to gather complete, objective and accurate data. Delegates will also develop understanding of how to analyzing incidents to identify root causes and get awareness about the human relations aspects of incident reporting.