Why Investigate Incidents?

The main aim of investigating incidents is to:

  • Prevent similar incidents recurring in the future,
  • Identify any new hazards, and
  • Identify and choose suitable controls.

An incident investigation will assist an organisation to understand and accurately analyse the circumstances and causes of incident to prevent it happening again.

It is important that any investigation occurs as soon as possible. While concern for an injured worker should take precedence over everything else, when incidents involving injury or illness occur, early investigation is essential.  Details are usually more accurate straight after an incident, whereas the more time that passes, details can often become hazy and distorted.

Any incident in which injury or significant property damage occurs should be investigated.  There will also be events usually referred to as ‘near misses’.  A near miss is defines as an accident that almost happened (i.e. a worker slipped but didn’t hurt themselves).  Near misses can be used to prevent more serious incidents.

Causes of incidents are rarely straightforward. When circumstances are examined closely there may be many contributing factors and causes.  The key is to identify those that can be most effectively acted upon to prevent recurrences in the long term.

Health and safetyIncident investigations should always emphasise the long-term elimination of injury, loss or damage.  The focus should be on systems deficiencies.

After identifying causes and factors, suitable improvement actions must be identified and implemented.