Unfortunately in the wood and upholstery industry it often happens that we only realize that a hazard exists, or that a risk control is inadequate, when an incident occurs. Incidents include near misses and situations in which employees coped with the hazard well. When an injury results in lost time or medical costs, workers’ compensation claim forms must be completed.

Accident / Incident investigations are rich sources of information for monitoring and evaluation. Ideally, where serious incidents or injuries have occurred, senior managers (including business owners or board members) should be involved in the investigation and should take responsibility for ensuring that any corrective action necessary receives the appropriate resources.

Conclusions and recommendations should be developed in consultation with employees - particularly the employees who will be affected by any proposed changes.

Incident report forms are legal documents and must be completed thoroughly and objectively. It is essential to investigating incidents in order to be able to identify and address hazards. This requires investigators (a manager and a Health and Safety representative or employee) to be trained for the task. A detailed approach must be used, particularly for long-term incidents or symptoms where underlying causes may be hard to identify.

A First Aid Report includes details such as:
Date of the Incident
Time of the Incident
Location of the Incident
Name of Person Being Treated
Name of First Aider
Short Description of the Incident
Contents of first aid box items used
Comments on how treatment was administered unto person treated

Things that you should consider when investigating incidents include:

  • Who is involved?
  • Where and when did the incident occur?
  • What task or work was being performed?
  • How did the incident occur, for example, was a client, chemical or equipment Involved?
  • What were the events leading up to the incident?

The aims of an investigation in the wood and upholstery industry

Put simply, an investigation is a search for information. Information is usually obtained from people such as witnesses, informants and physical evidence in the form of documents, fingerprints, blood stains, shoe prints, tool marks and other trace evidence.

The investigation of an incident, like all other investigations, is initiated in order to solve a problem by finding the answers to a list of possible questions. These questions may consist of a number of, or all of, the following:
  • Who?
    Who were the individuals involved in the particular incident being investigated? The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all involved people are important.
  • What?
    What is the real story of the incident? For example, what happened before, during, and after someone fell at a construction site?
  • Where?
    The physical place of the incident and the movement of people and objects are important. For example, where exactly were witnesses and the patient when she/he fell?
  • When?
    An idea of the time that particular activities took place during an incident is necessary for a thorough investigation. For example, it could be vital for paramedics to know how long the patient has been in an injured state, and that might help them to administer the correct medication and treatment.
  • How?
    The focus of this question is on how the incident was able to take place in spite of Health and Safety measures. Were there indeed any Health and Safety measures in place at all? After an incident, investigators often attempt to find out how the incident could happen even though H&S measures were in place. In the case of an industrial accident, investigators attempt to find out how the accident occurred while safety equipment was supposed to be in use.
  • Why?
    This question can be difficult to answer. What was the cause of the incident? However, the answer can lead to the discovery of a pressing problem that may not have been so obvious. For example, numerous loss creating activities in a manufacturing plant may be brought about by low employee morale. In this case, theft and destruction of company property can be reduced by, for example, increasing management’s concern for employees through praise, a sports programme, bonuses, contests and good quality meals in the canteen.

Download forms for reporting of incidents:

Reporting an incident is an important part of an effective Occupational Health and Safety Program.

  • It helps identify work related health and safety hazards, risks and dangers.
  • The purpose is to identify the causes of incidents.
  • Appropriate controls can then be put in place to prevent further occurrences of such events. In other words and incident investigation is normally performed to find out what happened, why it happened, and to prevent it from happening again.
  • The same innovative approach is demonstrated through the stipulations of the occupational Health and Safety Act.