Numerous statutory authorities throughout the world produce executive summaries of incident reports. These are known in a variety of names such as safety alerts. These are accessible through various mediums such as safety magazines, trade and business journals, direct mailing lists, health and safety libraries, and of course the Internet. WorkSafe’s website has one of the best on-line collections of summaries.
The disturbing aspect of reading these summaries is that the same type of incidents are happening all around the world, time after time, indicating that people are not learning from incidents in which some people have been seriously injured or even died.
On the positive side, the incident that the investigator is examining is probably not unique. With a little research it is plausible they will locate other incidents that have taken place in very similar circumstances. By researching these other incidents the investigator will be able to benefit from other investigators’ research, findings, recommendations and preventative strategies.
Some investigators attempt to reconstruct the circumstances of the incident. This is not a recommended practice as reconstruction goes hand in hand with recurrence. At this stage, it is important to recognise that there is a distinct difference between reconstruction and re-enactment.
Reconstruction is a rebuilding of the incident, and is primarily used to establish the sequence and reason why parts and equipment failed. Re-enactment is description of events played out, primarily to obtain timeframes and sequences of events prior to the actual incident. Reconstruction can be an extremely important tool, particularly when there are no witnesses to the event and there is minimal or no physical evidence. Where reconstruction of the circumstances or part of the circumstances is deemed necessary, it must be made in a controlled environment.
Participate in the Investigation of Incidents is one unit that comprises the Certificate IV in OHS.