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Incidents usually occur when hazards are not detected through preventive measures, which includes job or process safety analysis, or as the result of combinations of circumstances that were difficult to foresee. A thoroughly done incident investigation should thus identify previously overlooked physical, environmental, or process hazards, the need for new or more extensive safety training, or even unsafe work practices. The main focus of any incident investigation should be the facts surrounding the incident and the lessons learnt from it to prevent similar future occurrences. It should be understood that the process should be thought of as an opportunity for improvement within the company, and not to place blame.

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When to conduct an Incident Investigation?

An incident investigation should be conducted for:

  • All injuries;
  • All incidents with potential for injury;
  • Property/product damage situations; and
  • All “near misses” where the potential for serious injury was present.

How to plan for an Incident Investigation?

Planning an incident investigation includes procedures that determine the following:

    • Who should be notified of accidents?
    • Who is authorized to notify outside agencies (police, fire department)?
    • Who is assigned to conduct incident investigations?
    • What training does accident investigators require?
    • Who receives and acts on investigation reports?
    • Who should work out timetables for conducting hazard correction?

How to gather information during an Incident Investigation?

Information should be gathered regarding the direct and indirect contributors to the incident. Below are some tools that should be used to gather as much information as possible during an incident investigation:

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed as soon as possible after the incident. Note that witnesses should be interviewed separately and not as a group;
  • Other interested persons such as supervisors and co-workers should also be interviewed;
  • The following related records should be reviewed:
  1. Training records;
  2. Disciplinary records;
  3. Medical records;
  4. Maintenance records;
  5. WCA Forms;
  6. Safety Committee records;
  • The incident scene should be documented with photographs, videotape, sketches, as well as appropriate measurements.
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