Accident and Incident Investigation – What you need to know

Accident and Incident Investigation What you need to know Safety Forward

The following article explains the accident and incident investigation process and what you need to know to assist your business in this procedure.

When incidents are investigated, the emphasis should be concentrated on finding the root cause of the incident so you can prevent the event from happening again. The purpose is to find facts that can lead to corrective actions, not to necessarily find fault, and to  always look for deeper causes and not simply recording the steps of the event.

Ideally, an investigation would be conducted by someone or a group of people who are experienced in incident and investigative techniques and who are knowledgeable in occupational health and safety fundamentals.

Following our investigation, the report will highlight the cause of an accident and identify any failings of the health and safety management system. Accident investigation reports may be used to defend legal action against your organisation as they show that you are actively trying to reduce the possibility of re-occurrences.

Legal Requirement

To ensure you are operating your organisation within the law, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 5, requires employers to plan, organise, control, monitor and review their health and safety arrangements. Health and safety investigation forms an essential part of this process.

Inspect the location

The first stage would be to ensure the site of the accident or incident is safe for the investigation team to inspect, so they can contain and preserve any evidence required to carry out the initial investigation. Photographs, videos, sketches and plans are a useful method of recording the physical evidence and conditions at the location and any equipment involved may need to be examined to determine what part it played in the accident.

Review Health and Safety Documentation

Looking carefully at the health and safety policy already in place is imperative during investigation. Making sure staff understand the procedures and that management are ensuring the measures are being implemented and are effective is important and may need reviewing and changing. Further training may need to be taken across the whole of the staff structure.

Witness Statements and Interviewing

A witness statement is a document recording the evidence of a person who you have spoken to, which is signed by that person to confirm that the contents of the statement are true. In general, the statement should only contain information on what the witness saw, and not what others have said to him / her.  Employees giving a voluntary witness statement will not need legal advice but they are entitled to have someone attend the interview with them.

Preparing the report

Reporting and recording are legal requirements and the report must be compiled with the upmost of accuracy for possible legal proceedings. The report tells the enforcing authorities for occupational health and safety (HSE and local authorities) about accidents and incidents and this means they can identify where and how risks arise and provide advice on how to avoid work-related deaths, injuries, ill health and accidental loss. Information on accidents, incidents and ill health can be used as an aid to risk assessment, helping to develop solutions to potential risks and records also help to prevent injuries and ill health, and control costs from accidental loss.

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