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Toby Howell AIEMA BA PGDip

Protect Your Staff and Empower Your Organisation with Workplace Investigations

Workplace investigations are a crucial cog in any effective workplace health and safety system. Discover how your organisation can embrace internal investigations and enhance workplace safety by reading more below. 

July 2023

*This blog has extracted information from the Astutis Incident and Accident Investigation course*


Has your organisation ever had an incident that was not appropriately investigated or even at all? 

The chances are, the answer is yes. 

It has taken a long time for the importance of workplace incident investigations to be recognised. 

In fact, it has been commonly thought that little instances, like a small trip on a piece of carpet or a dangling wire that causes someone to divert their route, are small and have no harm. That may be the case in the first instance. However, these examples escalate and snowball into much more significant issues. 

The problem is that because the issue (the bad carpet or dangling wire) was known, the organisation is more than responsible for any injury or loss of life reparations. 

This is why it has become commonplace for organisations to report and investigate even the briefest of accidents or incidents to combat and restrict any reoccurrences - As the saying goes, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

Investigating and analysing work-related accidents and incidents is essential to successfully managing health and safety at work. Learning lessons from such experiences is critical to preventing future adverse events. 

Carrying out an investigation provides a deeper understanding of the risks associated with work activities. Learning what went wrong enables improvements to be made to risk control measures and also to the arrangements necessary for effective management of health and safety. 

However, understanding how to investigate to begin with requires some fine-tuning and deeper understanding. 

The Astutis Incident and Accident Investigation course offers the complete skillset required to undertake workplace investigations professionally and accurately.

The course has been designed to develop an enhanced understanding of the investigation process and the activities necessary to effectively investigate incidents at work. 

At the end of the course, learners will be able to:

  • Gather and analyse incident information;  
  • Use a causal tree methodology to identify direct, underlying and root causes of an adverse event;
  • Understand the concept of human failures in adverse events;
  • Identify effective measures to prevent a recurrence and prepare an action plan; and
  • Understand the requirements for incident reporting and data analysis.

Why investigate?

The primary reason for investigating an accident is to learn from the experience, and to gain an understanding of:

  • How and why things went wrong;
  • What happens and how work is done; and
  • Any deficiencies in risk control systems and management, enabling improvement going forward.

Essentially, the main reasoning behind investigating workplace incidents/accidents falls under the umbrella of moral, legal and financial drivers. 

Let's take a look at those. 

Moral, Legal and Financial Drivers 

The umbrella of moral, legal and financial drivers is a far-reaching spectrum of incentives for organisations to, in the most simple terms, be careful. 

In the case of workplace accidents and incidents, failing to investigate the cause and impact of such events can lead to loss of life and legal ramifications. 

Specific legal reasons to properly investigate adverse events are:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to plan, organise, control, monitor and review their health and safety arrangements – accident investigation plays an integral part in this process;
  • In the case of a civil action, there is a need to fully disclose the circumstances of an accident to the injured parties taking legal action. The courts are likely to view a thorough investigation and appropriate remedial action as a demonstration of a positive attitude to health and safety; and
  • Insurance companies may also require to check the findings of an investigation when dealing with a claim.

However, the benefits gained from investigating incidents go beyond much further than staying on the right side of the law. They also include:

  • The prevention of further similar adverse events;
  • The prevention of business losses due to disruption, stoppage, lost orders and the costs of legal actions;
  • An improvement in employee morale and attitude towards health and safety as a consequence of positive action; and
  • The development of managerial skills such as problem-solving and action planning.

Whatever the causes of particular incidents, organisations should remember that the investigation aims to prevent a recurrence of the adverse event. This will not be achieved without appropriate follow-up actions being carried out in a timely manner.

What can my organisation do?

The short and simple answer is to investigate incidents and accidents; however, it's easier said than done. 

Firstly, your organisation needs to know how to investigate these events because an inaccurate or insufficient investigation can be worse than not investigating in the first place. 

The Astutis Accident and Incident Investigation course will give staff everything they need to know to successfully embark on investigations in your workplace. It is a one-day course limiting disruption to everyday operations. There are no formal entry requirements meaning anyone in your organisation can apply the understanding from day one. 

Further information on the Astutis Accident and Incident Investigation course, such as assessment and syllabus details, can be found in the course factsheet

Organisations are putting more emphasis on the information obtained from incident/accident investigations as the need for effective internal investigations heightens. Ensure your organisation possesses an effective system for in-company investigations allowing a higher level of safety in the workplace. 

If you want the latest health, safety and environmental training trends, exclusive offers and expert insights on the most pressing topics, subscribe to the Astutis Newsletter!

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