Helpline Advice 5 – Accident Investigation

By BHA Partner, Shield Safety Group

Even with rigorous Health & Safety precautions in place, accidents can happen in the workplace. Whether your customers or employees are involved, it is vital that the incident is followed up by an investigation.

Did you know?

According to the HSE , Health and Safety investigations form an essential part of the monitoring process that you are required to carry out. Incidents, including near misses, can tell you a lot about how things actually are in reality.

Why carry out an investigation?

An investigation can help you identify why the existing risk control measures failed and what improvements or additional measures are needed.

It can:

  • Provide a true snapshot of what really happens and how work is really done (workers may find shortcuts to make their work easier or quicker and may ignore rules – you need to be aware of this)
  • Improve the management of risk in the future
  • Help other parts of your organisation learn
  • Demonstrate your commitment to effective health and safety and improving employee morale towards health and safety

Investigations can involve the following:

  • Physical (the scene of the incident)
  • Verbal (the accounts of witnesses)
  • Written (risk assessments, training record cards, check lists)

What should I ask as part of my accident investigation?

The Helpline Team have compiled some generic questions to assist you with your investigation:

  • Where and when did the accident happen?
  • Who was injured?
  • Who was involved?
  • How did the accident happen?
  • What activities were being carried out at the time?
  • What did witnesses see/hear?
  • Was there anything different about the working conditions? Did the working conditions cause the accident?
  • Were there adequate safe systems of work and were people following them?
  • Was the activity being properly supervised/ managed?
  • What were the outcomes of the accident – injury, death or near miss?
  • What was the cause of any injury?
  • What were the causes of the accident?
  • What does the relevant risk assessment say?
  • Was the risk known? If yes, why was it not controlled?
  • Was maintenance and cleaning adequate?
  • Were the people involved trained (training record cards)?
  • Did any materials cause the accident? E.g. chemicals
  • Did the work equipment cause the accident?
  • Was Personal Protective Equipment provided and used correctly?
  • What other conditions caused the accident?

What kind of evidence should I collect?

In order to support your investigation, it is best practice to collect lots of evidence which might include:

  • Observations
  • Measurements
  • Photographs
  • CCTV footage
  • Permits-to-work
  • Details of the environmental conditions at the time

We all know that accidents can happen but the important thing is that we learn from our mistakes. By carrying out a thorough investigation, your accidents and reported cases of occupational ill health will help you uncover and correct any breaches in health and safety legal compliance you may have been unaware of so they’re actually a vital learning exercise.

Not only that, the fact that you thoroughly investigated an incident and took remedial action to prevent further occurrences would help demonstrate to a court that your company has a positive attitude to health and safety. Your investigation findings will also provide essential information for your insurers in the event of a claim.

If you subscribe to our Helpline service, you have the full support from trained environmental health professionals throughout an investigation for that extra peace of mind. Sound good? Contact us on 0203 740 3744 or email sales@shieldsafety.co.uk.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.

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