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Accident Investigation

Effectiveness of Good Investigation:

An effective investigation requires a methodical, structured approach to information gathering, collation and analysis.

The findings of the investigation will form the basis of an action plan to prevent the accident or incident from happening again and for improving your overall management of risk.

Your findings will also point to areas of your risk assessments that need to be reviewed.

This link with risk assessment(s) is a legal duty. Below we have added some of the most frequently asked questions around Accident Investigation and some answers or pointers for you to take a look at.

What are the Legal reasons and Duties to Investigate?

  • To ensure you are operating your organisation within the law.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 5, requires employers to plan, organise, control, monitor and review their health and safety arrangements. Health and safety investigations form an essential part of this process.
  • Following the Woolf Report6 on civil action, you are expected to make full disclosure of the circumstances of an accident to the injured parties considering legal action. The fear of litigation may make you think it is better not to investigate, but you can’t make things better if you don’t know what went wrong! The fact that you thoroughly investigated an accident and took remedial action to prevent further accidents would 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. 

 

What should be Investigated?

Having been notified of an adverse event and been given basic information on what happened, you must decide whether it should be investigated and if so, in what depth. It is the potential consequences and the likelihood of the adverse event recurring that should determine the level of investigation, not simply the injury or ill health suffered on this occasion. For example: Is the harm likely to be serious? Is this likely to happen often? Similarly, the causes of a near miss can have great potential for causing injury and ill health. When making your decision, you must also consider the potential for learning lessons.

For example, if you have had a number of similar adverse events, it may be worth investigating, even if each single event is not worth investigating in isolation. It is best practice to investigate all adverse events which may affect the public.

 

So, I have recorded the Accidents why Investigate?

There are hazards in all workplaces; risk control measures are put in place to reduce the risks to an acceptable level to prevent accidents and cases of ill health. The fact that an adverse event has occurred suggests that the existing risk control measures were inadequate.

Learning lessons from near misses can prevent costly accidents. (The Clapham Junction rail crash and the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry capsize were both examples of situations where management had failed to recognise, and act on, previous failings in the system.) You need to investigate adverse events for a number of reasons.

 

Benefits of Investigating Accidents:

  • The prevention of further similar adverse events. If there is a serious accident, the regulatory authorities will take a firm line if you have ignored previous warnings.
  • The prevention of business losses due to disruption, stoppage, lost orders and the costs of criminal and civil legal actions.
  • An improvement in employee morale and attitude towards health and safety. Employees will be more cooperative in implementing new safety precautions if they were involved in the decision and they can see that problems are dealt with.
  • The development of managerial skills which can be readily applied to other areas of the organisation.

 

Who should carry out the investigation?

For an investigation to be worthwhile, it is essential that the management and the workforce are fully involved. Depending on the level of the investigation (and the size of the business), supervisors, line managers, health and safety professionals, union safety representatives, employee representatives and senior management/ directors may all be involved. As well as being a legal duty, it has been found that where there is full cooperation and consultation with union representatives and employees, the number of accidents is half that of workplaces where there is no such employee involvement.

Agility may also support your you or even carry out the accident investigation if you so wish.

Contact Agility R&C

Agility Risk & Compliance Ltd provide tailored solutions to mitigate risk and improve compliance in Health and Safety, HR, Training, and Occupational Health.

If you have an enquiry please call us on 01527 571611 or email us on info@agilityrac.com.

Existing clients call our 24-hour service and you will be directed to your expert consultant.

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