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Incidents management – 5 Essential Steps to Manage Them Well in Your Organization

24 October 2018

Incidents management – 5 Essential Steps to Manage Them

Managing your health and safety processes and programs is about avoiding accidents and unfortunate incidents. Despite your teams’ best efforts, no one is completely immune to major incidents at work. 

If you have to manage an incident or any other kind of event, here are the five essential steps to be followed in order to effectively manage and to follow up on the incident: 

  1. Reporting 
  2. Investigation 
  3. Analysis 
  4. Corrective measures 
  5. Lessons learned. 

1. Reporting of an Incident 

When an incident occurs, the first step is to declare it. But what must be declared?

We suggest that you immediately declare any occurrence, condition or situation arising from work that has resulted in or could have resulted in injury, illness, damage to the health or the environment, or death. 

2. Investigation of the Incident 

The second step in incident management is the investigation. It is used to identify the facts, list the causes and the circumstances that led up to the incident.  The investigation is usually conducted by qualified inspectors chosen by the company for their ability to analyze complex situations. The duration of an investigation varies according to the complexity of the situations to be analyzed. The decision to conduct an investigation or not remains a company decision based on the risk tolerance level. 

The investigation of an incident normally leads to a report that includes: 

  • The description of the facts surrounding the incident
  • The description of the consequences 
  • A root cause analysis
  • CAPAs taken to rectify dangerous situations 
  • If necessary, recommendations. 

During the investigation, the investigators will look for facts that contributed to the incident. 

The list below provides some avenues to explore when trying to establish the incident’s facts:  

Contributing factors

Technical Environment

  • Type of technology used
  • Production planning
  • Production organization
  • Process type
  • Production process stage
  • Workout place layout
  • Workstation model and workplace conditions
  • Equipment, machines and/or tools used
  • Material used
  • Personal protection equipment
  • Physical hazards
  • Environmental factors
  • Quality control
  • Other types of control.[/one_second]

Work Organization

  • Workstation: capacity, tasks to be completed
  • Salary structure (salary, bonuses, production targets etc.)
  • Schedule
  • Experience in the role and in the company
  • Training and level of education
  • Type of employment
  • Teamwork
  • Supervision at the time of the incident
  • Communications
  • Type of EHS management
  • Socio-demographic characteristics
  • Pace of work at the time of the incident
  • Workplace culture, standards and attitudes
  • Decision making process
  • Safety instructions /regulations/work procedures and policies.[/one_second]

Investigation of Incidents: Main Guidelines

During the incident investigation, the investigators will follow certain guidelines: 

  • Focus on prevention 
  • Identify facts rather than focusing on blame
  • Assure and maintain confidentiality 
  • Consult people (ask questions) 
  • Communicate the results of the investigation 
  • Have a systematic approach to identify facts 
  • Ensure that all persons involved in the investigation are trained.

During the investigation, the main sources of information for investigators are:  

  • Eyewitness accounts 
  • Site surveys 
  • The perspective of experienced people 
  • User manuals and instructions 
  • Manufacturers and suppliers 
  • Standards, such as: ISO, CSA, ANSI, ASTM, etc. 
  • Health and safety laws and regulations 
  • Previous reports on incidents and dangers  
  • Other files and reports 
  • Records of purchases, maintenance schedules or information concerning guarantees. 

Finally, the investigation ends with the preparation of a list of facts to be analyzed by the investigators. 

3. Incident Analysis

The third step is to analyse the facts and question them facts to ascertain their contribution to the incident. Applying analytical techniques to the incident’s facts will allow the investigators to get a view of the whole picture. Criteria for selecting the appropriate analytical technique for the incidents should be based on the following list of prerequisites: 

  • Must systematically list all deviations noted in the process associated with the incident in chronological order 
  • Must list and describe the relevant contributing factors to the sequence of events 
  • Must identify the CAPAs required to avoid incidents of a similar nature. 
  • Must be presented in a format that will allow different users to arrive at similar conclusions from the same data. 

4. Corrective Actions

Once the investigation and analysis of the facts has been completed, conclusions can be drawn as to the causes of the incident. CAPAs can then be identified and implemented to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. 

To identify those CAPAs, your team must organize a problem-solving meeting. This meeting will help to analyze the information related to the incident and choose the corrective and preventive actions to be implemented. The meeting should bring together safety professionals, technical staff and representatives from your health and safety committee. 

This meeting is of great importance as it should help to identify and plan:  

  • Areas where corrective action is required 
  • The effectiveness of the various types of preventive measures to be implemented 
  • The priorities 
  • The schedule. 

The resulting investigation report will help educate managers and workers about the hazards in their workplace and how to control or eliminate them. The report is therefore an excellent prevention tool.

5. Lessons Learned

A major part of an efficient incident management strategy is to learn from this experience and to communicate these lessons to both local and global members of your organization. 

Communication of lessons learned will allow the members of your team to share the problems they faced and the solutions they implemented. It will also allow them to learn from others and identify whether your site is at risk of situations that happened elsewhere. 

Incident management is essential to ensure the follow-up of incidents, especially to: 

  • Prevent the reoccurrence of costly incidents 
  • Prevent the prolonged absence of qualified personnel essential to the success of your organization 
  • Avoid delays in the delivery of products and services for your customers 
  • Avoid projecting a negative image of your organization. 

In Conclusion

Finally, it is to your advantage to use a computerized system that will manage the process mentioned above. The advantages with the help of an event management software such as CONFORMiT are numerous. 

  • Accelerate the reporting process with the help of mobile and web applications
  • Reduce delays in reporting and avoid penalties related to delay in reporting incidents
  • Reduce the reaction time to problematic situations by quickly implementing solutions
  • Reduce delays in communication between the different levels of the organization in order to ensure that solutions are implemented quickly
  • Reduce the time necessary for the creation of management dashboards for accidents and incidents. 

Contact the CONFORMiT team of experts for more information on incident management or for an assessment of your current situation.

Maxime Ouellet CGO CONFORMiT
Written by Maxime Ouellet