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4 Key stages in carrying out an incident investigation

by , 15 March 2016
Workplace incidents are a stark reality which employers and employees must face on a daily basis.
And should one occur in your very own workplace, you would have to carry out an incident investigation.
But how exactly does one go about conducting one?

According to a paper the Department of Education and Training, of the Queensland Government, there are 4 key stages within conducting an incident investigation in the wake of a health and safety incident, which can be of great assistance to any employer.

They are as follows...

Stage#1:  Take action immediately

In some situations within an incident investigation, it may be necessary to take immediate action.

In other words, one might have to go to the incident scene straight away and determine if someone requires medical attention, or if anyone needs to be evacuated.

If any machines or devices are the reason for the incident, ensure that they're turned off, and that they are marked 'out of order'.

Stage#2: Collect information for the investigation

Here you should determine the timeframe for the investigation as well as ensure that evidence such as photographs, risk assessment records, relevant work procedures, detailed sketches of the workplace and witnesses (for interviews) have been gathered as soon as possible for study.

TIP: Get the names and contact details of the witnesses as you could easily forget them.

When we asked the Commissioner what he wants in an incident report, this is what he said...
Whenever you place a claim for one of your employees with COID, the Compensation Commissioner examines your incident report in extensive detail.
And I know exactly what he looks for!
He checks that every detail of the workplace incident or occupational injury has been included along with all the details of your investigation.
Miss JUST ONE point on his checklist, and he'll delay your claim. And your employee's compensation will now be your problem!
That's why you need to make sure you conduct a thorough incident investigation the first time around.
Here are the tips he shared with me!
Stage#3: Arrange and analyse the information

Once you have collected all of the information, you must arrange it in a logical order, after which you can analyse it in making a plausible conclusion of the root cause of the workplace incident.

You can construct a timeline chart which depicts a 'cause-and-effect' flow here. 

Step#4: Find solutions

Based on your findings, you should make recommendations to correct a fault within the workplace.

NOTE: If the cause of the incident was out of the workplace's control, then solutions can't really be recommended. The incident would then be considered an 'accident', based on unfortunate and 'freakish' chance.
*Those were 4 stages to go through when conducting an incident investigation.

To learn more on incidents in the workplace, as well as on investigating them, go to chapter I 01 in your Health and Safety Advisor handbook.

Or click here if you don't already have a copy. 

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