How to investigate a workplace safety incident

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Learn proper techniques from occupational health and safety specialists

John LevesqueWhen a workplace safety incident happens, or almost happens – as in a ‘near miss’ – the causes must be investigated to prevent the same thing from happening again.

“Some of the benefits of incident investigation training include the ability to create accurate descriptions of incidents and near misses,” says John Levesque, Acting Director, Program and Product Development at Workplace Safety North (WSN). “Of course, improved worker health and safety and working conditions are a natural consequence once you begin tracking information properly."

The purpose of an incident investigation is to determine the causes and recommend controls to prevent a recurrence. The immediate cause is often the result of many contributing factors and underlying issues, so a proper investigation needs to be thorough and methodical.

“When there’s a health and safety incident in the workplace, you can often find many factors at play,” says Levesque. “It’s a mistake to make assumptions and jump to conclusions based only on appearances and initial findings. There’s a method to uncovering all the facts and that’s what people learn in an incident investigation course.”

The training course has been fully redesigned to include a workshop component that gives participants the chance to conduct a virtual investigation of an incident and report their findings to the class. “It’s a hands-on approach that quickly gives participants experience and confidence they can take back to the workplace,” says Levesque. “The materials include sample incident report forms and other tools, so the course is very practical and immediately useful.”

Designed to provide the necessary knowledge and tools for supervisors, joint health and safety committee members and others, Incident Investigation for Industrial Establishments reviews legal requirements for workplace incident investigations as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulation 851 for Industrial Establishments, as well as some of the major theories on why incidents occur in the workplace, and the key components of an effective incident investigation.

“The most important reason for investigating incidents is to identify any injury or illness trends in your workplace, and take steps to prevent them from recurring,” says Levesque. “As they say, ‘knowledge is power,’ and when you properly track health and safety incidents in the workplace, you can move from a reactive to a proactive approach.

“Not only do you gain a better understanding of your business operation and reduce costs due to fewer incidents, but you’re demonstrating quite clearly – and leading by example – the importance of worker health and safety,” adds Levesque.

For more information, contact


Incident Investigation for Industrial Establishments

Incident Investigation: Surface Mining

Supervisor Common Core: Incident Investigation (Mining)

WSN Course Catalogue