As a safety consultant I often see the outcomes of poor safety incident investigations. Poor incident investigations are also an indicator of where the organisation is, as far as their safety culture.
Poor incident investigation results in corrective actions being put in place that are ineffective and the same or very similar incident reoccurs and we are left wondering why. The injured employee or the employee who was operating the piece of the equipment is blamed and the witch hunt begins.
I often see incident investigations where the findings have statements such as, the employee should have been more aware, alert or shown more initiative. When I read this, I know immediately that there is a lack in education in thorough and effective incident investigation.
Unfortunately, this results in a blame culture, which in turn then reduces incidents being reported unless its highly visible, too many witness’s, there is blood or it just hurts too much for the worker to continue their duties.
When a blame culture emerges, minor injuries or incidents stop being reported and we miss out on the free lessons and the opportunity to rectify a safety issue before it becomes serious and we end up serious injuries to our employees and costly worker’s compensation claims.
Those who conduct incident investigations are generally not lazy people or looking to blame anyone. In most cases it’s just the process they have been taught or have always done it that way and don’t know any better.
How do you fix this you ask?
Firstly, check your incident investigation procedures, forms and checklists, do they exist are they current, and are they being used.
Secondly check what if any training those conducting incident investigations in your organisation have received.
Thirdly, review some of your recent incident investigations and see if there are any blame statements towards the injured employee or the one operating the equipment.
Fourthly, investigate your incident statistics do you have repeat incidents of simular nature occurring even though you have put in corrective actions to stop or minimise them?
Use these checks to identify if you have a training gap in your organisation with incident investigation and then find a provider to help them and in turn reduce your cost in poor incident investigation.
The cost of poor incident investigations has a roll on effect in your organisation from culture, to lack of reporting, to serious incidents, and costly worker’s compensation claims and in some cases increased premiums.