Planning incident investigations

Certificate IV in Occupational Health and SafetyAn incident investigation is a methodical, systematic, unemotional undertaking to collect and interpret information about an event, to establish the extent of an injury or loss, why it happened, and to analyse the processes involved to minimise the risk or prevent a recurrence. The investigation will normally result in the preparation of a logical, sequential report of the events with recommended preventative strategies.

The amount of pre-planning required is dependent on the number and type of discreet workplaces the investigator is likely to be called to, and their geographical location. A major need for pre-planning is to enable an investigator to reach an investigation site as soon as possible after the event, and to have all of the equipment required to conduct the investigation at their disposal.

If a person such as a health and safety representative is only responsible for investigating incidents in their immediate workplace or location within the workplace, their pre-planning will probably only require adequate stationery to be physically at hand, together with a written list of where all other items that may be required can be located.

On the other hand if an enterprise group safety officer has workplaces that are spread throughout the State or Country, they would need to have a fully equipped case, bag or other container ready to go at any time. The amount of equipment to be taken will depend on the mode of transport to be utilised (e.g. motor vehicle or aircraft). This situation is the scenario faced by most external investigators.

Basic equipment that may be required includes:

  • Mobile telephone, with back-up power pack, for communication

  • Camera, with spare film, flash and batteries

  • Personal protective equipment (safety glasses, hard hat, safety shoes, hearing protection, gloves, respiratory protection, wet weather gear)

  • Recording equipment, with spare tapes, batteries

  • Stationery, writing/sketching materials, pre-printed forms, handouts

  • Containers for taking and storing samples

  • Small hand tools, torch, pliers, screwdriver, tape measure

Other items that may need addressing are transport, accommodation and expenses.  If a motor vehicle is to be the chosen form of transport, particularly to distant or remote locations, the vehicle should be suitable for that task and ready for use (fuel, roadworthiness, and maps/directories). If an aircraft is to be used, bookings are required, transport at the destination arranged, accommodation booked, etc. as well as financial arrangements for paying for these services (cash advance, company credit card, purchase order book).

Learn how to plan incident investigations while undertaking a Certificate IV in OHS and studying the unit – Participate in the Investigation of Incidents.