How to Successfully Investigate a Workplace Incident

by | Mar 13, 2019 | Company News, Featured

An incident in the workplace can describe any event that could or did result in physical or mental harm to an employee. The term is defined broadly in the context of occupational safety, but it generally includes any situation that threatens the well-being of workers. Whether an event results in a life-threatening injury or only a few bruises, employers should conduct a thorough investigation to identify the underlying factors and behaviors that contributed to the accident.

Basic Steps of a Workplace Incident Investigation

  • Secure the Site
  • Make Visual and Physical Records
  • Gather Witness Testimony
  • Document and Analyze
  • Report and Share Findings
  1. Secure the Site

Incident investigations should begin as soon as possible after any injured parties have received appropriate medical care. The first step for investigators is to secure the immediate location, including tools, equipment, documents or any other items that may provide relevant information. Access should be limited until the area has been thoroughly researched and deemed safe for normal use.

  1. Make Visual and Physical Records

Investigators should seize every opportunity to gather and record first-hand information about an incident. This includes taking pictures and video of the area where the incident occurred to provide context and a visual reference for future research. Investigators should make note of any temporary conditions, like moisture levels or temperature, that may change from day to day.

  1. Gather Witness Testimony

In many cases, testimony from witnesses and those involved in an incident is the best way to discover key details that provide valuable insight into the situation. However, it’s also common to receive conflicting or inaccurate reports, so it’s important to move quickly and conduct interviews while the events are still fresh in their minds.

  1. Document and Analyze

Once they’ve collected all the available evidence, investigators have to organize and compare the implications of all the information they’ve found. This includes weighing the probable accuracy and authenticity of each piece, as well as performing follow-up research and interviews.

  1. Report and Share Findings

The final step in an incident investigation is the submission of a formal report that informs company leadership and serves as an official record. Employers may also have to use this information when reporting to insurers and government agencies.

Plan Ahead for Incidents and Investigations

Employees in any kind of work environment are exposed to occupational hazards, but the risks associated with an accident are a major concern in the energy industry. Oil and gas operations typically involve powerful machinery, heavy equipment and handling of volatile substances, so a minor mishap on an offshore rig can have disastrous consequences for the entire team.

Workplace investigations need to be methodical, consistent and thorough, which means employers need to have a plan in place before an incident occurs. This includes templates for reports, research and other key documents, as well as an established protocol for dealing with possible complications.

As experts in occupational safety issues, Pharma-Safe Industrial Services offers complete safety management and strategic development services to our clients. We help companies develop practical strategies and clear, actionable plans. Our expert team also includes professional investigators who can lead or assist clients when examining the facts surrounding an injury or near-miss incident on site. Contact us today to learn more. 

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