Sep 17, 2017

Incident investigation the OHSAS 18001 way

When incidents relating to occupational health & safety happen, OHSAS 18001 has specific requirements about the actions that should be taken. An incident is classified as work-related where ill health, injury or a fatality occurred, or could have occurred.

Not all incidents can be prevented by a management system and there will always be some accidents in the workplace. What we can do is analyze them properly and do our best to prevent them from happening again.

Where did the incident occur?

The organization will sometimes not be allowed to investigate an incident and legal authorities must be involved. This would be the case with fire where the fire department should be called, or an incident with fatal consequences where police will be involved.

The first step is to determine in which process the incident occurred, what really happened and who was involved. A detailed description of the incident is necessary, as this will form the basis for further incident investigation.

The objective of your investigation will be to determine where the OHSAS system failed and what steps need to be taken to prevent it from happening again.

What failed?

You should identify the cause of the incident, looking at all possible causes. Once you have listed all likely causes, these need to be compared to establish the most likely one. While evidence is gathered and the most likely cause of an incident found, try to prevent under reporting.

A root cause is a cause that initiated a sequence of events or a condition that led to the incident. If the root or the source you are considering is not backed up by the facts, it is discarded, else it should be treated as a probable cause.

When investigating the real cause, apply the following steps:

  • Physical research
  • Observe the process to establish the mechanism by which the incident was activated
  • Repeat and assess what happens in a controlled environment
  • Interview any person who may have witnessed what caused the incident
  • Consult with employees who are familiar with the processes

When people involved in an incident are interviewed, always ask open questions and explain that the incident’s root cause needs to be identified.

Every possible cause must be tested for a confirmation to establish the real cause of the incident. When more than one probable cause is identified, you need to establish the primary cause.

The result of your incident investigation should be findings that clearly show which part of your OHSAS system has failed, what corrective actions should be taken and what changes are required to improve the system.

The incident investigation report must contain all findings of the investigation and the report must be delivered to management. Once the investigation report has been compiled, management can determine which corrective actions should be implemented.

Make sure all is well

Whenever corrective actions are implemented, you need to follow up to establish whether the corrective actions have removed the cause. If corrective actions have not been successful, new corrective actions should be taken to ensure that this type of incident will never happen again.

Effivity will guide you through the Incident Investigation with pre-compiled forms and templates, making it easy to ensure that you find the root cause and recording the full report in the process. Corrective actions and their follow up is also catered for, driving the process to its logical conclusion.

Sree Vidhya

CRM Specialist At Effivity
Sree has over 7+ years of experience. She excels in building strong client relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction. Sree's expertise and dedication help drive Effivity's commitment to exceptional customer service.

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