Driving is the most dangerous work activity that most people do. Over 100 people are killed or seriously injured every week in crashes involving someone who was driving or riding for work. This
includes other road users, such as passengers, pedestrians and riders, as well as at-work drivers or riders themselves.
HSE ‘Driving at Work’ Guidelines state that “health and safety law applies to on-the-road work activities and the risks should be effectively managed within a health and safety system.” Therefore, employers must conduct suitable risk assessments and put in place all ‘reasonably practicable’ measures to ensure that work related journeys are safe, staff are fit and are competent to drive safely and the vehicles used are fit for purpose and in a safe condition. A key component of a risk management system is a comprehensive accident and incident reporting and investigation policy and procedure that is designed to:
- Ensure work-related road accidents, incidents and near misses are reported and recorded
- Identify their immediate and underlying causes
- Enable lessons to be learned and shared throughout the organisation
- Implement measures to reduce the likelihood of similar accidents or incidents occurring again
Ultimately, this will help to reduce the number of accidents and incidents, and their consequences.
Accidents are very costly in human and financial terms but, if investigated correctly, they also represent highly valuable safety learning opportunities. However, many factors can compromise good investigations, such as:
- Only concentrating on immediate causes and not underlying root causes
- A lack of understanding and skill by investigators
- Not using structured methods to integrate evidence
- A tendency to only seek to attribute blame
- Only seeking evidence that satisfies preconceptions and stopping the investigation too soon
- Failure to gather all the evidence (particularly poor interviewing techniques)
- Fear of recrimination and traumatised victims and witnesses inhibiting openness
- Not scaling investigations to the seriousness or learning potential of the accident or incident (investigating everything in the same way)
- Poor communication of lessons learned
- Failure to implement recommendations from the investigation
Therefore, organisations need to have a structured, methodical approach to accident, incident and near miss reporting and investigation, with the right policies, procedures and equipment in place to be ready and able to conduct thorough investigations, with staff who are appropriately trained to do so.
This guide gives simple advice on developing and implementing approaches to incident and accident reporting and investigation to enable organisations to learn appropriate lessons from their experience