Workplace incidents should be investigated to ensure that they do not occur again and to identify how they can be prevented. However, in order to investigate incidents, you need to understand first how and why they occur in the first place.
Majority of the time, workplace incidents are blamed on technical or human error – this is a smoke screen and is merely obscuring why the incident truly occurred. By placing the blame on technical and/or human error, this takes the blame off corporations and places the blame on mechanical errors or on a specific individual. Nevertheless, it is more complex than this. Workplace incidents are usually due to a build-up or string specific actions that caused the incident, which normally could have been avoided.
So while you may be investigating a serious workplace incident today, we have to remember that the reason for the incident is due to a series of actions that caused the incident. Therefore, if you are investigating a ‘near miss’ incident where an employee did not get injured but could have been, that these sort of incidents need to be thoroughly investigated as these ‘near misses’ normally turn into serious incidents if not investigated properly.
There are three stages to an incident investigation, and that these stages should be taken seriously and thoroughly:
1. Collect information to establish the facts
2. Analyse the facts to establish root causes
3. Identify actions to prevent recurrence
Each investigation can only be as good as the quality of the facts and information gathered; as if the correct facts information have not been collected, the investigation will provide incorrect outcomes and, therefore, the issue that caused the incident will not be resolved. To ensure that you are carrying out a thorough workplace incident investigation you should follow the stages as identified earlier.