Workplace Accident And Incident Investigation

Accident and Incident Investigation

Work accidents happen every day, leaving many scratching their heads on what to do next. A key fact is that the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires these incidents get a proper look-in.

Our article walks you through how understanding and tackling the root causes with an effective investigation can boost workplace morale and cut down risks. 

Planning and Conducting Investigations

When planning and conducting workplace accident or incident investigations, it is crucial to establish clear scope and objectives. Gathering information and evidence must be thorough and meticulous to ensure comprehensive investigation outcomes.

Establishing the scope and objectives

Establishing the scope and objectives is crucial for a thorough investigation of workplace accidents and incidents. This step ensures that every aspect of the incident is examined to prevent future occurrences.

  1. Clarify the purpose: Begin by identifying what you aim to achieve with the investigation, whether it’s to understand root causes, meet compliance with occupational safety and health regulations, or improve work conditions.
  2. Identify the scale: Determine how big or small the investigation needs to be. Consider factors like the severity of the incident, whether it involved hazardous substances, and if there’s a need for an in-depth analysis involving experts from outside the organisation.
  3. Focus on specific factors: Look into procedural failures, lack of use of personal protective equipment (PPE), training deficiencies, or failures in the implementation of preventive actions.
  4. Meet statutory requirements: Ensure that your investigation aligns with national safety council guidelines and workplace safety laws to avoid potential offences under criminal procedure.
  5. Gather all necessary information: Employ methods such as interviews, examining video evidence, reviewing job descriptions, and checking maintenance records stored in cloud-based systems.
  6. Address immediate risks: If during the investigation immediate and serious risks are discovered, take swift corrective action to mitigate them before continuing with broader issues.
  7. Hand over broader matters: Once significant immediate issues are addressed, delegate comprehensive analysis of systemic problems to appropriate teams focusing on long-term corrective and preventive actions.

Next comes planning how to gather information and evidence effectively.

Gathering information and evidence

Gathering information and evidence is a crucial step in accident and incident investigations. It helps find the root cause and prevent future incidents.

  1. Take photos of the scene right away to capture how things looked at the time of the incident. Include any relevant equipment, materials, and environmental conditions.
  2. Interview witnesses as soon as possible. Get their accounts while their memories are fresh. Use open-ended questions to gather more detailed responses.
  3. Collect physical evidence before it’s disturbed or lost. This could include tools, equipment pieces, or anything that contributed to the incident.
  4. Review video surveillance if available, as it provides an unbiased view of events leading up to the incident.
  5. Examine maintenance records and safety training logs to check if procedures were followed or if there was a lack of training.
  6. Look into work schedules and reports from that day to understand workload and other pressures employees might have faced.
  7. Analyse data from any involved machines using error logs or software dashboards for malfunctions or unusual activity before the incident.
  8. Check first aid kits and medical reports for injuries sustained during the incident which can give clues about its severity and impact.
  9. Seek whistleblower protections for employees who provide sensitive information, ensuring their safety against retaliation.
  10. Work with health providers under contract to gather medical opinions on injuries caused by the incident.

This thorough approach lays a solid foundation for identifying both immediate causes and deeper systemic issues to build an effective action plan.

Does your workplace comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015? 

Our consultants can help ensure you have the right systems in place.

Outcomes and Learning from Investigations

Workplace accident and incident investigations lead to implementing corrective actions and learning valuable lessons for preventing future occurrences. Employers can use the outcomes to enhance work health and safety policies, ultimately improving employee safety and productivity.

Implementing corrective actions

Corrective actions are steps to stop accidents from happening again. They fix problems found during an investigation.

  1. Identify the root cause of the issue. This means looking deeply into the accident to find out what really went wrong, using techniques like root cause analysis.
  2. Update safety policies and procedures. If the investigation shows that existing rules don’t prevent accidents, employers need to make new ones or update old ones.
  3. Train employees on new procedures. Once policies are updated, ensure all workers understand them through training sessions.
  4. Use checklists for regular checks. Create lists that help inspect workplaces regularly to catch hazards before they cause harm.
  5. Install safety equipment where needed. This can include eye protection in areas with flying debris or better ventilation in confined spaces.
  6. Put warning signs near potential dangers. Signs alert employees and visitors to risks like toxic substances or areas that require special gear.
  7. Encourage reporting of near-misses and hazards without punishment. This helps find and fix risks before they lead to injuries.
  8. Follow WorkSafe guidelines closely for ongoing compliance and best practices in workplace safety.
  9. Automate processes when possible using databases for incident management, which helps track trends and responses over time.
  10. Work with health providers for quick medical attention after incidents, ensuring fast response times for injured workers.
  11. Review workers’ compensation and insurance claims processes to make sure they support quick recovery for injured employees.

Each action encourages a culture of safety, aiming to lower the risk of work-related injuries by learning from past incidents and preventing future ones.

Lessons learnt and preventative measures

From each workplace accident investigation, we draw valuable lessons. Exploring beyond immediate causes to unearth root or underlying reasons helps prevent future incidents. These investigations shine a light on gaps within existing policies and procedures.

They create a roadmap for developing stronger risk management strategies in work environments such as construction sites and offices.

Implementing preventative measures is the next crucial step after learning these lessons. This involves updating occupational health and safety guidelines and introducing new training programmes.

For example, ensuring that every employee undergoes training on how to report accidents immediately can significantly reduce work-related injuries. Such actions promote a safer workspace and assist employers with workers’ compensation claims process by reducing potential incidents.

The goal is clear: to minimise hazards before they result in emergencies requiring an accident and emergency visit or police involvement due to negligence.


Workplace accident and incident probes are key to improving safety. They help us learn from mistakes, making sure injuries don’t happen again. By figuring out the root causes of accidents, workplaces can change policies and practices.

This means less harm to workers and lower costs for employers and insurers. Everyone wins when we focus on fixing problems, not placing blame.

Does your workplace comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015? 

Our consultants can help ensure you have the right systems in place.

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