An incident investigation involves the collection of evidence, some of it extremely fragile. Consequently it is highly desirable to collect the evidence in descending order of fragility. Fragility of evidence can be described as breakage, distortion or loss which makes the evidence unusable.
One of the most fragile pieces of evidence is the recollection of a witness, as this can change with time – particularly when their sub-conscious memory starts to fill in the events they saw, with what other people have stated they saw, or even theorised what might have happened.
The rescue of an injured person and securing the incident scene from contamination by other people moving around the area are of the highest priority. It may be necessary to make the scene safe before attempting to commence first aid on an injured person.
Once the injured person has been treated and removed, the scene should be secured to ensure the safety of yourself and other persons from any hazards that may still exist. Restrict access to the scene so as to leave it as close as possible to the conditions existing at the time of the incident.
If it is necessary to disturb the site to either remove the injured person or to secure any hazards, take a video tape recording or photographs if practicable. Alternatively make a note or sketch of what is done, or what the scene looked like prior to the changes, as soon as possible.
Find out more about commencing an incident investigation while obtaining a Certificate IV in OHS and studying the unit – Participate in the Investigation of Incidents.