Determine Who's Qualified to Be an Incident Investigator - Safetip #199

Safety Tip and Best Practice
February 05, 2020

Our latest Safetip is about establishing the criteria for who can conduct incident investigations in your organization.

Criteria for Being an Investigator

Despite your best efforts to foster a safe work environment, an incident can still occur. It’s not pleasant to have incidents, but at least an incident can help you learn something.

An incident investigation allows you to identify new hazards or areas of failure in your safety program. The information can be used to make changes and prevent the same type of incident from occurring again.

This is why a successful incident investigation is key. But not everyone has the required skills, competencies or experience to conduct an incident investigation. There are some characteristics that you should look for.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) has a great list of what you should look for in an incident investigator. The ideal investigator is:

  • Experienced in incident causation models
  • Experienced in investigative techniques
  • Knowledgeable of any legal or organizational requirements
  • Knowledgeable in occupational health and safety fundamentals
  • Knowledgeable in the work processes, procedures, persons, and industrial relations environment for that particular situation
  • Able to use interview and other person-to-person techniques effectively (such as mediation or conflict resolution)
  • Knowledgeable of requirements for documents, records, and data collection
  • Able to analyze the data gathered to determine findings and reach recommendations

You can use the elements above to establish the criteria for who can be an incident investigator in your own organization.

What About Supervisors?

CCOHS raises an interesting question: Should the immediate supervisor be on the incident investigation team?

On one hand, supervisors know a lot about work processes and individual workers. Also, supervisors can take action if something needs to be addressed right away.

On the other hand, there is a risk that a supervisor may not be entirely objective about his own potential mistakes that may have contributed to the incident. But this situation may be avoided if the incident is investigated by a team of people, CCOHS says.

Be aware of the pros and cons, and determine what works best for you.


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Author

JG

Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader