The Basics of Incident Investigations

The Basics of Incident Investigations

The main objective of any investigation is to prevent a recurrence, reduce risk and advance health, safety, and environmental performance. It is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability. It is most important that all members of the investigation team understand this fully. It is equally important to assure colleagues or others that may be called upon to provide witness testimony/evidence or are being interviewed by the investigation team.


The basic steps to any investigation is:

  • Immediate actions – this is about ensuring the appropriate emergency response and reporting has occurred; risk assessment to determine the scope, reporting requirements, and the investigation team arriving at the incident site well prepared and in a timely manner with an “investigation toolkit”
  • Planning – this includes looking at the resources required from the availability of interviews and meeting rooms to access IT to the requirements of any specialist support.
  • Data collection – one technique we use is PEEPO (P – people; E – environment; E – equipment; P – procedures; O – organization). We will look at PEEPO more thoroughly in the next blog
  • Data organization – once all the data has been collected, a timeline of events needs to be created.
  • Data analysis – here several methods can be used from the popular ICAM (Incident Cause Analysis Method) or RCA (Root Cause Analysis) or Bow Tie Analysis
  • Recommendations – this generally includes one recommendation to address each management system factor that has failed. Recommendations should add value and be SMARTER (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Reasonable, Timely, Effective, and Reviewed)
  • Reporting and Sharing -this is the presentation of the investigation findings and recommendations to all stakeholders.


So, follow these steps to ensure that your team can also conduct effective health and safety incident investigations.


As always if you need some clarification on the above steps or you’d like an external investigation carried out, do not hesitate to reach out.


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Date Posted: 15 June 2022