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What to do in attendance at a

workplace incident?

- Assess the situation to ensure your own safety.

- Provide first aid if it is in your capability and summon help.
How do you make sure the area is safe?

- Visually observe the scene and assess the situation.

- Ask others in the area if there are any obvious hazards
present which present a risk to health and safety.

Things to look for include:

- Presence of plant or equipment, because of which people

have been hurt (or could have been hurt).
- Presence of substances, which have contributed to the incident.
- Presence of particular hazards, e.g. electricity or fire and explosion.
Establish & Maintain Integrity of the Site & Personnel

The site should be secured to:

- avoid possible alterations to the scene; and

- Preserve evidence to ensure that

information gathering is not

The following actions need to be taken in securing the site:

- Close of the area using barriers or special purpose tape.
- Identify relevant personnel, including people
who have been harmed or injured, and
witnesses and others who may be able to
assist in describing the events that led to the
- Protect evidence, e.g. any items of plant, substances or work

- Observe and note conditions, including any

obvious damage to plant, equipment or
premises as well as environmental
conditions, e.g. temperature, wind, dust or

Identify Statutory & Legal Obligations

Establish legislative jurisdiction by identifying

who you need to report to, i.e. the OHS
Notify the regulator where required, i.e. if it is a serious incident.
Cooperate fully with any oficial investigation.
Contact relevant agencies, e.g. police,
emergency services and/or
environmental agencies

What should be investigated?

- All incidents including significant near misses should be investigated.
- Investigation should commence as soon as
possible after the incident occurs.
- Relatively minor incidents may be investigated and resolved quickly
within the immediate work area.

Who needs to be identified?

- Supervisors, i.e. people with responsibility for the work area.

- Workgroup members, where incident may impact on their work routine.
- Senior managers, depending upon the severity of the incident.
- OHS representatives and/or committees as
soon as possible, so they may initiate their
own investigation.
- OHS specialists, employed to develop and monitor safety management

- Employee assistance personnel, in situations where the

incident has resulted in traumatic injuries and/or people
have been or have the potential to be distressed by the

- Organizational legal advisers, in cases where people have

been seriously injured and/or if regulatory authorities have
been notified.
- External contractors or specialists, if the incident involves
the staf of contractors and/or the contractors are suppliers
of equipment that was involved in the incident.

Determine Factors Afecting the Complexity of the Investigation

The incident:

- Location of the incident, e.g. if the incident has occurred in a

geographically remote area, access to emergency services
will be limited and will require a higher level of planning and
- Secondary hazards arising from the incident, which will require
additional control measures, e.g. release of chemicals which
may expose people to hazardous substances or toxic fumes.
- Type of hazards that has caused the incident, including hazards arising
from operation of equipment, the use of substances or work activities.
- Production schedules, i.e. whether technical disruptions
or loss of personnel, if any, will disturb the
operations of the business.

The people:

- Seriousness of the injuries that have

been sustained, i.e. a person
requiring hospitalization is clearly a
more serious outcome than a
situation where there is no physical
- Language, i.e. assistance of an interpreter may be required
to deal with
the immediate situation and when interviewing the
various parties.
- Conflicts of interest, e.g. is it appropriate to include a
supervisor, who has been responsible for the development
of work schedules, in an
investigation where fatigue is an issue?

Legal and administrative issues:

- Notification requirements, e.g. the involvement of regulatory

authorities will add to the complexity of the investigation
because of the legal implications and the need for the
employer to take prompt and effective action, which will be
scrutinized by the regulator.
- Sensitive issues (e.g. any incident involving asbestos) because:

(i) there will be a higher level of scrutiny of investigation

outcomes; and
(ii) The nature of the incident may warrant an independent
investigation using technical experts.
- Employment relationships, in particular the use of any sub-contractors
or other parties that may have been brought into the
Identify Stakeholders & Interested Parties

Notification by the investigation team:

- Managers and those in control of the workplace to ensure

corrective actions have been taken to minimize the
possibility of re-occurrence.
- Government agencies.
- Work colleagues and work groups, particularly where the
work activities have been disrupted.
- Sub-contractors, if the incident involved their activities.
- Designers, manufacturers, suppliers and importers, where
an incident has occurred involving plant or substances.

Notification by management:

- The workers and their families, should a fatal or serious accident occur.

- Other employers including employer groups

and associations, to ensure that similar
accidents do not occur in other workplaces.
- The community, in situations where the
community will have a very close interest
in any incident where members of the
community are involved.
- Insurance companies, in situations where
injuries that may require
medical attention may involve a
workers compensation claim.

Element 2: Contribute to the establishment of an

investigation processes.
Access organizational Policies & Procedures

Why are policies and procedures important?

- Provide the investigation team with an

insight into the standards that have been
established by the organization.
- Provide invaluable information about the
organizations expectations about how work
is to be undertaken; and
- Provide a benchmark to determine the level of compliance.

What policies and procedures may be relevant?

- Organizations Investigation Policy.

- OHS Risk Management Procedures.
- Accident and Incident Reporting Policy
- Hazard Reporting Procedures.
- Training Policy.
- Contractor Management Policy.
- Purchasing Policy.
- First Aid Policy.
- Emergency Response Procedures.
- Risk Management Procedures, including Hazardous Substances

Management, Plant Operation and Maintenance Procedures, and Safe

Operating Procedures.

Where will you fnd policies and procedures?

- Managers ofice.
- Supervisors files.
- Human Resources department.
- Occupational Health and Safety Officer.
- Intranet.

The investigation may provide an opportunity to review and

evaluate the procedures and, if necessary, to revise them. When
the investigation is completed and the team is preparing its
report, it is prudent to highlight any deficiencies with current
practice and to recommend how it may be improved. In the unit
of the investigation, any documentation relating to investigation
procedures should be revised.

When you are participating in an investigation process, it is

important that you ask:
- Is there an incident investigation policy?
- Where is it?
- Does the policy identify who is to be involved in the investigation?
- Does the policy afford suficient authority to the
investigation team to conduct the investigation?
- Does the policy incorporate procedures that are to be followed in
conducting an investigation?
- What other policies and procedures are available?
- Are these policies and procedures known and understood by
supervisors and workers?

Convene Investigation Team

Match the relevant skills and expertise of the people

available with the type of incident that has occurred.
Investigation team should include people who are familiar with the tasks
and the work environment, e.g. line manager or immediate
Other personnel will include:

tee members;
- OHS safety
- first aid officer;
- site manager; and
- technical staff, e.g.
in- house engineers
equipment or materials suppliers.
The constitution and size of the team will be influenced by:
- seriousness/severity of the incident, e.g. incidents that have
resulted in serious harm or injury to workers may require an
investigation team with numerous people involved;
- technical expertise required, e.g. incidents that have involved
equipment, substances and/or sophisticated production
techniques require an investigation team with people with
the relevant technical expertise; and
- Incident sensitivity, e.g. incident of a particularly sensitive
nature require an investigation team with someone who is
able to contribute to addressing those matters.
It is important to ensure that the people involved have the appropriate
skills to contribute to the task, including:
- incident investigation techniques, e.g. gathering witness
evidence via interviews;
- technical skills of the work processes, equipment and workplace layout;
- investigative skills, e.g. ability to observe and note
details, take photographs, sketch maps and write

Defne Scope of the Investigation

The scope of the investigation relates to:

- resources to be allocated to the investigation; and

- Range of the investigation, i.e. what it will cover and how
far reaching the investigation will be.

The scope of the investigation will be influenced by:

- Regulatory requirements, i.e. any reportable incident to the

regulatory authority may initiate a significant investigation,
which will obviously require more efort;
- Technical issues, i.e. incidents involving plant, substances,
technologically advanced equipment and/or sophisticated
production systems will invariably require a more detailed
investigation; and
- Production disruption.
- Does the incident involve major damage to plant,
equipment and/or work processes?
- Is the damage severe?
- Do operational and maintenance records need to be accessed?
- Will job experts and technical expertise be required to assist?

Facilitate Involvement of Interested Parties

The involvement of interested parties may be:

- direct, i.e. participating in the investigation team; or

- indirect, i.e. being informed and/or providing input into the
investigation process.
The key considerations are:
- What are the legislative requirements in relation of
involving other parties?
- Who are those parties?
- How do you involve them?
What are the Legislative Requirements?

The legislative requirements will be found in OHS statutes ((OSHAD-SF) Co P s) ,

or in the legislation for specific workplaces, e.g. petroleum refineries.

The severity of the incident is a key factor for notification requirements.

If the incident is such that people are seriously or fatally

injured, you will be required to contact emergency services,
e.g. the ambulance service and the

After contacting the police you should, as soon as possible, alert the relevant
OHS regulatory authority.
Who needs to Involved

OHS representatives/committees add expertise and

credibility to the investigation process.
Workplace senior management secure resources and ensure that the
team has the appropriate authority to conduct the investigation.
Workplace co-workers help in understanding work
processes and work culture, and ensure that workers remain
informed about what is happening.

Identify & Source Resources Required Conducting the Investigation

Human Resources (technical experts):

- Serious incidents resulting in serious or fatal injuries (or the
potential for serious injuries).
- Significant product or property damage, e.g. people with
engineering or chemical qualifications and expertise, along
with process experts familiar with the work activities and
- notepad and pen;
- camera and film;
- barrier tapes;
- tape measure;
- torch with batteries;
- protective clothing; and
- Collection containers.

Personal protective equipment:

- brightly marked vests;
- eye protection;
- hearing protection;
- appropriate footwear; and
- Breathing apparatus.

Financial resources:
- Direct costs:

wages and salaries of staf involved, including the cost

of engaging technical specialists;
production costs, i.e. loss of production arising from the incident;
cost of replacing damaged plant or equipment; and
Testing of equipment/substances, etc.

- Indirect costs:

workers' compensation costs;

legal costs;
lost productivity;
Diversion of resources, i.e. people taken of line to conduct the

Identify & Address Barriers to

Employee and/or
Peoplemanagement attitudes, e.g. in
workers are unwilling to cooperate for fear of
blame, it istomost
important reinforce the position that the purpose of the
is to ensure that the incident does not happen again
and that that
systems the led to the incident are corrected and
Workforce language, i.e. it may be necessary to engage
the services of an accredited interpreter to ensure that
statements can be accurately recorded.

Cultural issues, including:

- reluctance to speak to people in
authority to cultural differences at the
work scene;
- reluctance to assist in an investigation because
of fear of formal investigation and a
desire to avoid the scrutiny of
authority figures; and
- Cultural tension between various groups within the workplace.
- Community and stakeholder sensitivity, i.e. the more
serious the incident the more sensitive it is likely to be,
e.g. workplace incidents involving young or
inexperienced workers.

Identify & Address Barriers to Investigation the Incident

The length of time that elapses between the incident

occurring and an investigation commencing, i.e. the longer
the delay the more dificult the investigation.
The resources available to conduct the investigation:
- access to technical experts or specialists, particularly if
these are not available within an organization;
- The allocation of staff to an investigation team will generally divert these
people from productive activities.
- The need to observe particular legal requirements, e.g. an
investigation being conducted by the regulatory authority
will take precedence over formal investigation initiated by
the organization, i.e. internal processes may need to be
scheduled to accommodate any such external investigation.
- The availability of specific testing equipment, e.g. air-monitoring device,
which is often not readily at hand, may be required to
measure the presence of particular gases, i.e. proactive
measures to identify equipment needs that relates to
workplace activities will naturally facilitate the
- The availability of technical specifications for plant and substances, e.g.
in incidents involving chemical substances, you will need to
refer to MSDS, which contain critical information about the
health effects and appropriate control measures for
chemicals used in workplaces, i.e. employers are legally
required to maintain a register of hazardous substances for
chemicals used in the workplace and to obtain an MSDS
from the supplier of the chemical.
- The access to guidance material and information products on technically
based issues, e.g. particular items of plant.

Identify & Address Barriers to Investigation the Environment

- The geographic location of an incident and the

accessibility of the site itself, e.g. oil rigs.
- The changes to the incident scene, which are best minimized by a timely
response to the incident and actively initiating the investigation process.

Ensure Action Plans & Timelines Are Developed by the Investigation

Action Plans

- Identify the team leader and team members and clearly

establishes communication and reporting lines, so that all
team members are clear on their role and reporting
- Prioritize the investigation, taking care to address urgent matters in an
organized and systematic way.
- Identify expert assistance that may be required.
Assign tasks to particular individuals in the team to ensure that:
- all team members are involved appropriately in the
investigation process; and
- The plan harnesses the skills of the team and each team member is
comfortable with their assigned tasks.
Define the timeline for the investigation by:
- nominating the time frame for each task assigned and
estimating the total time for the investigation;
- commencing at the date of the incident; and
- Concluding with the completion of the final report.

Ensure Action Plans & Timelines Are Developed by the Investigation

Work plans

The work plan is the methodology for achieving tasks

outlined in the action plan.

For example, the action plan will include conducting

interviews to obtain eyewitness reports. The work plan will
- a schedule of when of those interview will occur;
- who will be involved;
- how the information will be recorded; and
- Where the interviews will be undertaken.