Investigating health and safety incidents

Health and safety investigations are necessary to:

  • learn from incidents and so prevent a reoccurrence
  • provide factual information in the event of a civil claim or Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation

When an incident has occurred within a department, any risk assessments covering the task involved should be reviewed to ensure the circumstances of the accident have been taken into account, and any amendments or adjustments should be made to the assessment accordingly.

The Health and Safety Advisory Service (HSAS) reviews all incidents reported to them. If investigation is required they will either:

  • contact the manager responsible or relevant Health and Safety Liaison Officer and forward them an investigation form
  • notify the Estates Management Section of premises related incidents, so that they can investigate
  • more serious accidents will be investigated by HSAS

Completing the investigation form

Investigation tips

Be proportionate in any investigation, according to the level of risk identified (the potential harm may be greater than the actual injury). Establish what happened, when, where, why and how:

  • consider what the evidence shows
  • compare what you have found against industry standards/HSE guidance etc

Investigate accidents with a high priority - before people’s memories fade and while evidence is still available. Look at root or underlying issues not just immediate causes:

  • immediate causes - premises, plant and substances, procedures, or people
  • underlying causes - management arrangements and organisational factors such as design, selection of materials, maintenance, management of change, adequacy of risk controls, communication, competence etc

Record and keep findings (including who gave you the information) - they may be required later in a formal investigation or legal proceedings.

Further help

Contact HSAS if you need help with an incident investigation. If you regularly investigate accidents as part of your work you may find it helpful to attend our Accident Investigation Masterclass.

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Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Telephone: 01206 872944