Develop and Write an Incident Investigation Policy - Safetip #185

Safety Tip and Best Practice
September 25, 2019
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Our latest Safetip is about developing and writing an incident investigation policy to define a common framework for all investigators.

Be Better Prepared for Investigations

Back in November 2018, we published a blog post from our partner TapRooT® on three ways to be better prepared for an incident investigation.

In this Safetip, we want to highlight again one of the recommendations from the post: Writing an investigation policy and making sure that everyone is aware of it.

Not all incidents are the same. But a standard policy helps to define a common framework for all investigators and ensures that investigations are successful.

Elements of an Incident Policy

Here are the items that a policy should cover at a minimum:

  • The events that get investigated. The policy should clearly indicate what type of event gets investigated. Obviously, accidents and major incidents should get investigated. But what about minor incidents and near misses? Also, do you perform a root cause analysis systematically for all incidents, or only for accidents and major incidents? These are all questions that your policy should address.
  • Roles and responsibilities. The policy should mention the people (or roles) who will be part of the investigation team. The people responsible for collecting evidence, analyzing evidence, developing corrective actions, and writing the incident report should be identified. It can be different people, or some people can be involved in more than one activity. The policy should also determine if the immediate supervisor will be on the investigation team. There are pros and cons to this (check out section “Should the immediate supervisor be on the team?” on this webpage to learn more).
  • People to notify. The policy should identify the employees who must be notified, as well as the regulatory agencies in each country if the incident meets the criteria for being recordable or reportable.
  • Information to collect. The policy should spell out the types of evidence and information that are collected, and in what format. This can include physical evidence captured through video, images or audio, witness accounts and interviews, timesheets, safety committee minutes, inspection reports, and maintenance reports.
  • Corrective actions. An incident investigation is successful if root causes are identified (e.g. new hazards, human factors, controls that failed, process or equipment failures, etc.) But what is done with the information is more important. The problems that are found must be fixed. The policy should outline the process for implementing corrective action plans to address issues uncovered by the investigation.

If you’re interested in the topic of incident investigation, click here to view the recording of our webinar with TapRooT® on enabling a human factors-based incident investigation lifecycle.


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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader