INCIDENT REPORTING AND INVESTIGATION PROCESS
The purpose of any organization’s Incident Reporting and Investigation Procedure is to set out and define the requirements for all incidents to be reported and investigated with preventative and corrective actions implemented to eliminate or minimise the risk of harm and prevent future occurrences
So what is an incident?
An incident is defined as any unplanned event resulting in, or having a potential for injury, ill health, damage or other loss.
Typically incidents are classified as one of the following:
- Hazard: A source of potential harm to health and safety.
- Near miss: An incident which does not cause injury or damage but had the potential to do so.
- 3. Injury/illness: An incident where a person has been injured or is ill.
- Property damage or loss: An incident where property has been damaged and/or resulted in financial loss.
When to report an incident
In order to meet the organizations obligations and duty of care under the Occupational Health Safety 2004 (OHS) law, the organization must have appropriate processes in place for collecting information regarding incidents and responding to this information in a timely way. These processes form part of the organizations overall Health & Safety Management System.
The OHS Act 2004 includes some very specific guidelines relating to the most serious safety incidents, known as notifiable incidents. These include the death of a person, a serious injury or illness or a dangerous accident and must be immediately reported to Worksafe Victoria the regulator. Failure to comply may result in significant fines for individuals and the Organization
While it may be a legal requirement to report notifiable incidents to the regulator, capturing information about all incidents is essential to the effective management of risk. Reporting on all incidents will help the Organization to:
- meet compliance obligations
- learn from experiences
- identify and address issues early, and
- prevent future incidents from occurring.
An incident report form, either paper-based or electronic, is a practical way to capture the details of an incident.
An incident report form should capture the following:
- What happened?
- When it happened?
- Where it happened?
- How it happened?
- Who was involved?
- The extent of any injuries or damage (if known).
- Any action/s taken to prevent the incident occurring again (further actions may be identified in the investigation process).
- Whether the incident requires further investigation?
- Who will receive a copy of the form (a notifiable incident must be immediately reported to WorkSafe Victoria and this may occur before a report has been completed)?
Reportable Incident Notification to WorkSafe
Notifiable incidents as referenced in Victorian legislation (listed below) shall be communicated to the relevant Regulator by the Organizations health and safety advisor for follow up action or investigation.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), employers and self-employed persons must notify WorkSafe immediately after becoming aware an incident has occurred. It is an offence not to report a notifiable incident and failure to do so may result in prosecution.
Incidents that must be reported include those that result in:
- needing medical treatment within 48 hours of being exposed to a substance
- immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital
- immediate medical treatment for injuries, including for example amputation, serious head or eye injury, electric shock, serious lacerations.
Incidents must also be reported where a person in the immediate vicinity is exposed to an immediate risk to their health or safety, for example due to:
- registered or licensed plant collapsing, overturning, failing or malfunctioning
- collapse or failure of an excavation, or shoring supporting an excavation
- collapse of a building or structure
- implosion, explosion or fire
- escape, spillage or leakage of any substance including dangerous goods
- plant or objects falling from high places
Dangerous goods incidents
All incidents involving dangerous goods must be reported. Examples include:
These incidents must also be reported immediately to the nearest fire authority or police station.
WorkSafe will contact the Organization and advise:
- if an inspector will visit their site
- whether the incident scene may be disturbed.
Completed Incident Investigation forms need to be logged and stored in a central location either in the General Manager’s office or in the HR Department in complying with Privacy legislation.
The overall purpose of an incident investigation is to identify all of the factors that contributed to the injury, illness or fatality. The key outcome from an investigation is to prevent the same or similar incident from happening again. The organization can obtain results through consultation, research and analysis into the root causes of the incident and the development of a mitigation plan to eliminate or minimize the risks in the workplace.
RCW Safety can assist in developing the organizations incident investigation plan, the organization needs to be clear about their objectives and have a firm understanding of the organisation’s existing incident investigation policy, procedures and processes including information gathering techniques and root cause analysis tools.
Effective incident investigation plans ensure the purpose scope and objectives are relevant to the nature and scope of the incident that is being investigated.
Objectives must be based on realistic and measurable objectives and include appropriate actions, timelines, schedules of tasks and responsibilities for the investigation team members.
An organizations incident investigation plan should include the following elements:
- Incident investigation overview
- Incident investigation team overview
- Incident investigation strategy
- Consultation and communication strategy
- Risk management plan
- Time-line of events
- Reporting and monitoring requirements
Planning of the organizations incident investigation approach should be a well-planned, holistic and thorough process involving extensive research, consultation and communication with key witnesses and stakeholders.
Throughout the implementation of the plan, the organization will need to revisit many of the ideas and strategies outlined in there Incident Investigation Plan. By referring to the organizations plan and updating it regularly, they will ensure that their incident investigation activities are heading in the right direction.
Prior to completing an incident investigation implementation plan template, consider the following:
- Gather together the organizations key business documents. Before commencing, gather together key business documents. This includes business plans, budgets, and action plans. Having the right information on hand will mean you can be more accurate in your planning processes.
- Take your time and consider your specific needs. Key members should work through the plan at their own pace. Start by deciding which sections are and set aside the sections that don’t apply. They can always go back to the other sections at a later date.
- Decide on your audience. It’s also important to consider their audience when writing the plan. Will the plan be used internally? Or will they be sharing it with others? Deciding on the purpose of the plan can help them target their answers appropriately.
- Use the [italicised text]. The italicised text is there to help guide them by providing some more detailed questions they may like to answer when preparing their responses. Of course, if a question does not apply to their circumstances it can be ignored.
- Ask for some assistance. If they aren’t confident in completing the incident investigation plan template themselves, the organization can enlist the help of a health and safety professional (or business adviser or accountant) to look through their plan and provide them with advice.
- Review the plan. Avoid mistakes by asking a number of impartial people to proof read the final plan.
RCW Safety has the skills and knowledge to develop from scratch or build from exiting documentation,
- Incident Reporting Templates
- Near Misses
- Investigation Forms
- Assist with Incident Investigations
- Incident Investigation Templates and
- Return to Work Planning