Conducting Incident Investigations at the Workplace

Conduct incident investigations

Workplace incidents –including injuries, illnesses, close calls/near misses, and reports of other concerns– provide a clear indication of where hazards exist. By thoroughly investigating incidents and reports, you will identify hazards that are likely to cause future harm. The purpose of an investigation must always be to identify the root causes (and there is often more than one) of the incident or concern, in order to prevent future occurrences.

How to accomplish it

  • Develop a clear plan and procedure for conducting incident investigations, so that an investigation can begin immediately when an incident occurs. The plan should cover items such as:
    • Who will be involved
    • Lines of communication
    • Materials, equipment, and supplies needed
    • Reporting forms and templates
  • Train investigative teams on incident investigation techniques, emphasizing objectivity and open-mindedness throughout the investigation process.
  • Conduct investigations with a trained team that includes representatives of both management and workers.
  • Investigate close calls/near misses.
  • Identify and analyze root causes to address underlying program shortcomings that allowed the incidents to happen.
  • Communicate the results of the investigation to managers, supervisors, and workers to prevent recurrence.

Effective incident investigations do not stop at identifying a single factor that triggered an incident. They ask the questions "Why?" and "What led to the failure?" For example, if a piece of equipment fails, a good investigation asks: "Why did it fail?" "Was it maintained properly?" "Was it beyond its service life?" and "How could this failure have been prevented?" Similarly, a good incident investigation does not stop when it concludes that a worker made an error. It asks such questions as: "Was the worker provided with appropriate tools and time to do the work?" "Was the worker adequately trained?" and "Was the worker properly supervised?"

Note: OSHA Kenya has special reporting requirements for work-related incidents that lead to serious injury or a fatality. First, the supervisor should be notified immediately. Afterwards, OSHA must be notified within 8 hours of a work-related fatality, and within 24 hours of an amputation, loss of an eye, or inpatient hospitalization.

 


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