Incident investigation: the ultimate due diligence

Oct 12, 2017

investigation"A robust incident reporting and investigation process supported by a culture committed to continual improvement is the ultimate due diligence," says WSPS' Andrew Harkness. It's a cornerstone of injury and loss prevention.

"Most serious events give us all kinds of clues and warning signs if we know how to look for them," continues Andrew. "Figuring out why something happened - the real underlying causes - helps you anticipate and prevent future incidents from occurring."

An incident may be an occurrence, condition, or situation that could result or already has resulted in injury, illness or death. The topic is top of mind for Andrew. He's a member of the CSA technical committee responsible for CSA Z1005-17 - Incident Investigations, a new standard that outlines incident investigation and prevention principles and requirements.

"Incident investigation is one of the foundational conversations that almost every organization has around health and safety. 'Why did this happen? What can we put in place to prevent it from happening again?' CSA Z1005-17 reinforces the investigation process, encouraging workplaces to be more thorough, to be more comprehensive, and to ask more questions. We owe it to ourselves to figure out what was missing and why the incident occurred."

Do workplaces really need better incident investigation?

"The basic test is, how effective is your incident investigation process? If you're not already learning from incidents, and if they keep happening, this suggests your incident investigation process is weak.

"It's not about assigning blame," cautions Andrew. "It's about getting a better handle on current conditions and possible system failures. With this information you can anticipate and prevent incidents from happening, keeping your people safe and your operation running."

CSA Z1005 adheres to established management system principles, such as a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to ensure that system deficiencies are continuously identified and addressed. You don't need a health and safety management system in place to apply CSA Z1005. "It's a stand-alone document," says Andrew, "but if you do have a management system, you can just plug the new standard into it."

How we can help

Find out more about CSA Z1005-17.

Improve your understanding of incident investigation principles and practices with these handy WSPS investigation and inspection offerings: