When to investigate incidents

Certificate IV in Occupational Health and SafetyThe ideal time to investigate all accidents and incidents is now! As close as possible to the time of the incident is the most desirable, before evidence starts to deteriorate. Obviously, the physical location of the incident site compared to the location of the investigator will have a significant bearing on how quickly an incident investigation will commence. Preferably the investigator should be one of the first people on the scene, to enable the scene to be secured and evidence preserved or captured.

If the investigator cannot get to the incident scene immediately, arrange with some other responsible person to secure the scene and protect the evidence. Depending on the time lapse between the incident and the commencement of the investigation, it may be desirable to have another person take photographs if practicable, and prepare a list of persons who were at or near the scene, who may be potential witnesses.

The deterioration of evidence can take many forms such as;

  • Deterioration due to weather conditions (wind, rain, temperature etc.)

  • Destruction or relocation due to the need to remove the evidence to rescue an injured person

  • Destruction due to unauthorised persons or vehicles moving around the immediate vicinity

  • And the most fragile of all evidence – the recollection of the human mind and the ability of a person’s sub-conscious memory to fill in gaps in what they saw or their own visual experience being corrupted by another person’s verbal description of what happened.

  • You can learn more about investigating accidents and incidents while undertaking a Certificate IV in OHS and studying the unit –  Participate in the Investigation of Incidents.