Accident Prevention & Investigation

When to Investigate a Safety Incident

An investigation is required if an incident

  • Resulted in time loss
  • Required off-site medical attention for a worker
  • Could have caused serious injury to a worker
  • Resulted in the death of a worker
  • Involved a major structural failure and/or
  • Involved the major release of hazardous substances

Preliminary investigations must be conducted within 48 hours of the injury/incident or within 48 hours of management being notified of the injury/incident.

The investigation team must include at least one worker representative who is a member of the BCGEU (see below for information on choosing a worker representative) and one management representative. Members of the investigation team should complete investigation training through the Learning Centre before conducting an investigation.

The investigation includes these six steps:

  1. Secure the scene
  2. Collect data
  3. Develop a sequence of events
  4. Determine the cause of the accident
  5. Create recommendations to prevent recurrence
  6. Fill out the Preliminary Investigation section of the Joint Accident/Incident Investigation Form (DOCX, 148KB)

The preliminary investigation should focus on what is being done immediately to stop a similar incident or injury from occurring and should note

  • Identified unsafe conditions, acts or procedures that may have contributed to the incident
  • The interim corrective actions taken to prevent a recurrence of the incident
  • When any corrective actions not yet implemented will be taken
  • The circumstances of the accident or incident that preclude the employer from addressing a particular element of the above during the preliminary investigation period
  • The name and job titles of the person responsible to implement any interim recommendations
  • The dates the interim measures were implemented
  • The date the preliminary investigation was completed

When complete, send a copy of the form to your local Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) or safety representative and to the BCGEU.

Do NOT submit the preliminary investigation form to WorkSafeBC.

A full investigation of an accident/incident must be completed within 30 days of the incident, or of the employer (via manager or onsite supervisor) being notified, whichever is sooner.

The full investigation will

  • Ensure any immediate unsafe conditions are corrected
  • Identify and correct/eliminate any unsafe conditions, acts or procedures that contributed to the accident
  • Determine if there was compliance with applicable safety regulations
  • Review whether the response to the incident was sufficient
  • Fulfil WorkSafeBC legal requirements and BCGEU collective agreement requirements
  • Determine the cause(s) of the accident and prevent similar accidents in the future

For straightforward investigations, it may be possible to combine the preliminary and full investigations, as long as both can be completed within 48 hours. In this case the worker representative must be a BCGEU and JOHSC member familiar with the work, and the Joint Investigation form must be provided to WorkSafeBC.

Flow chart for safety incident investigation process

As noted above, the investigation team must include at least one worker representative, who should

  • Be a member of the BCGEU
  • Be a member of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee
  • Have completed Incident Investigations training through the Learning Centre
  • Be familiar with the work

(See Worker's Compensation Act - Section 174 and BCGEU Master Agreement - Section 22.5.)

If an employee meeting these criteria is not available to complete the investigation within 48 hours of the incident, or was involved in the incident being investigated, the worker representative should be a BCGEU member who sits on the JOHSC and is familiar with the work.

If a BCGEU and JOHSC member familiar with the work is not available, the worker representative should be a BCGEU member from the workplace who is familiar with the work.

If the preliminary investigation is completed by a worker representative who is not on the JOHSC, the full investigation must be completed by one who is. (See Section 176 of the Worker's Compensation Act.)

If there are multiple unions on site, please contact AskMyHR for assistance in choosing a worker representative.

If the preliminary investigation and full investigation are being completed within 48 hours as one report, the worker representative must be a BCGEU and JOHSC member.

Pryamid graphic showing ratio of near misses to death for safety accidents

For every serious injury, there are 10 lost-time accidents, 30 property damage incidents and 600 incidents with no visible injury or damage, known as "near misses." The ratio of near misses to serious injury is often expressed as a pyramid. If you reduce the size of the base of the pyramid by eliminating the near misses you will reduce the number of injuries, and serious injuries, at the top of the pyramid.

Any near miss could become a serious injury under only slightly different circumstances. Investigating near misses and correcting the causes can prevent a worker from being injured. The process for investigating a near miss is exactly the same as investigating an accident.