Workplace incidents can occur in any organisation, regardless of how well-prepared or safety-conscious the organisation is!
Conducting a thorough incident investigation is crucial to understanding what went wrong, identifying the root cause, and implementing corrective actions to prevent future incidents.
It is essential for companies to have a team in place that is equipped to carry out such investigations effectively.
According to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, 227 271 workers reported lost time as a result of workplace injury from 2000 to 2021, indicating the extent of workplace accidents.
In this blog, we will explore how to conduct a workplace incident investigation, the importance of conducting a workplace incident investigation and the key steps to take when choosing and training a team for the task.
By implementing these best practices and online safety training, organisations can improve their safety culture and lower the risk of workplace incidents.
Procedural Stages Involved in Conducting an Incident Investigation
Conducting a workplace incident investigation involves a series of procedural stages that must be followed carefully to ensure a thorough and accurate investigation.
The process includes the following steps:
- Investigation Process
- Report Writing
- Follow-Up and Monitoring
By understanding and following these procedural stages, organisations can improve their incident investigation process and ultimately promote a safer work environment.
When a workplace incident occurs, the first step in conducting a thorough investigation is preparation. It involves:
- Gathering information about the incident
- Identifying and notifying the investigation team
- Assigning roles and responsibilities
- Determining the scope of the investigation
Once this information has been collected, it is crucial to identify and notify the investigation team, which may include representatives from management, HR, safety, and other relevant departments.
Roles and responsibilities should be assigned to each team member, ensuring everyone knows what they are responsible for and their role in the investigation.
Finally, the scope of the investigation should be determined, which involves identifying the areas that will be investigated, the data that will be collected, and the timeline for completing the investigation.
Organisations can conduct an effective incident investigation and improve their safety culture by taking these steps in the preparation stage.
2. Investigation Process
The investigation process involves a series of steps that are crucial in understanding the cause of an incident and determining appropriate corrective actions.
These steps include scene assessment, witness and involved party interviews, document and record review, root cause analysis, and developing recommendations and corrective actions. Let’s explore each step in detail.
A. Scene Assessment
During the scene assessment, the investigation team should secure the scene to ensure that evidence is not tampered with or destroyed.
The team should conduct a walkthrough of the incident location, documenting the scene and collecting physical evidence. This can include photographs, videos, or measurements to reconstruct the incident.
B. Interview Witnesses and Involved Parties
Identifying and locating witnesses is an important step in the investigation process. Witness and involved party interviews should be conducted to obtain statements and analyse inconsistencies in their accounts of the incident.
This can provide valuable information in understanding the cause of the incident.
C. Review Documents and Records
Reviewing relevant policies and procedures, training records, incident reports, and prior incident history can help identify potential contributing factors to the incident.
This step is important in identifying any areas where policies or procedures can be improved to prevent future incidents.
D. Identify Root Causes
The root cause analysis involves identifying all the factors contributing to the incident and analysing the data and evidence to determine the underlying cause.
A root cause analysis tool or technique can be used to help identify the root cause and develop corrective actions.
E. Develop Recommendations and Corrective Actions
Based on the investigation findings, recommendations should be developed to prevent future incidents.
These recommendations should be prioritised, and corrective actions should be developed and assigned to responsible parties.
This step is crucial in implementing improvements to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
3. Report Writing
Once the investigation is complete, creating a detailed report of the findings is important. The report should include all relevant information, analysis, and recommendations to prevent future incidents.
The investigation team should review and approve the report to ensure that it accurately reflects the findings.
After approval, the report should be distributed to appropriate parties, such as management, HR, safety, and other relevant departments.
This step is crucial in communicating the investigation results and implementing corrective actions to prevent similar incidents in the future.
A well-written report can also serve as a valuable resource for future investigations and for improving the organisation's safety culture.
4. Follow-Up and Monitoring
The final step in conducting a workplace accident investigation is to follow up on the recommendations and corrective actions developed during the investigation process.
This involves implementing the corrective actions, monitoring their effectiveness, and evaluating the investigation process to identify areas for improvement.
Implementing corrective actions is crucial in preventing similar accidents from occurring in the future. Assigning responsibilities for implementing the corrective actions can help ensure that they are completed promptly and effectively.
The effectiveness of the corrective actions should be monitored to ensure that they have the desired effect and that the incident does not recur.
Evaluating the investigation process can help identify areas for improvement in the investigation process. This can include identifying gaps in policies or procedures, improving the team's accident incident investigation training, or changing the root cause analysis tool or technique used.
This step is important in continuously improving the incident investigation process and promoting a strong organizational safety culture.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should be included in the initial incident report?
The initial incident report should include the date, time, location, description of the incident, and names of those involved.
How should witnesses be interviewed and statements collected?
Witnesses should be interviewed individually in a private location, using open-ended questions to gather their account of the incident. Their statements should be documented in writing or recorded if possible.
What documents and records should be reviewed during the investigation?
Documents and records to be reviewed during the investigation include relevant policies and procedures, training records, incident reports, and prior incident history.
Conducting a workplace incident investigation offers numerous benefits to both employers and employees, so it is essential to understand how to conduct a workplace incident investigation.
By following the procedural stages involved in an incident investigation, organisations can identify the root causes of incidents and develop effective recommendations and corrective actions to prevent them from recurring in the future.
A thorough investigation can also help improve the safety culture within the organisation and demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of employees.
By implementing the recommendations and corrective actions and continuously evaluating and improving the investigation process, organisations can create a safer and more productive work environment for all.