Investigating health and safety incidents

Health and safety investigations are necessary to:

  • learn from incidents and so prevent a reoccurrence
  • provide factual information in the event of a civil claim or Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation

When an incident has occurred within a department, any risk assessments covering the task involved should be reviewed to ensure the circumstances of the accident have been taken into account, and any amendments or adjustments should be made to the assessment accordingly.

The Health and Safety team reviews all incidents reported to them. If investigation is required, they will either:

  • contact the manager responsible or relevant Health and Safety Liaison Officer and forward them an investigation form
  • notify the Estates Management Section of premises related incidents, so that they can investigate
  • more serious accidents may be investigated by a Health and Safety Adviser 

Completing the investigation form

Please ensure the investigation form is completed within 2 weeks of the incident being reported. If you are unable to complete your investigation in this time, please contact your Lead Health and Safety Advisor

Investigation tips

Be proportionate in any investigation, according to the level of risk identified (the potential harm may be greater than the actual injury). Establish what happened, when, where, why and how:

  • consider what the evidence shows
  • compare what you have found against industry standards/HSE guidance etc

Investigate accidents with a high priority before people’s memories fade and while evidence is still available. Look at root or underlying issues not just immediate causes:

  • immediate causes - premises, plant and substances, procedures, or people
  • underlying causes - management arrangements and organisational factors such as design, selection of materials, maintenance, management of change, adequacy of risk controls, communication, competence etc

Record and keep findings (including who gave you the information) - they may be required later in a formal investigation or legal proceedings.

Further help

Contact Health and Safety if you need help with an incident investigation.

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Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Telephone: 01206 872944