Incident/accident prevention and investigation

Last Updated: January 19, 2023

When to investigate a safety incident

An investigation is required if an incident:

  • Results in time loss
  • Requires off-site medical attention for a worker
  • Could have caused serious injury to a worker (a near miss)
  • Results in the death of a worker
  • Involves a major structural failure, and/or
  • Involves the major release of hazardous substances

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

The investigation team must include at least one worker representative who is a member of the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) and one management representative. Team members should have completed OHS incident investigation trainingIDIR restricted offered by the BC Public Service Agency workplace health and safety.

The investigation includes 6 steps:

  1. Secure the scene
  2. Collect data
  3. Develop a sequence of events
  4. Determine the causes of the accident
  5. Create recommendations to prevent recurrence
  6. Fill out the Preliminary Investigation section – Part A 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. It notes:

  • Unsafe conditions, acts or procedures that may have contributed to the incident
  • Interim corrective actions taken to prevent the incident from happening again
  • Corrective actions yet to be taken and when
  • Circumstances delaying corrective actions
  • The name(s) and job title(s) of the person responsible for implementing corrective actions
  • The dates the interim corrective actions 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 or incident must be complete within 30 days of the incident, or of the employer being notified of the incident.

The full investigation will:

  • Ensure immediate unsafe conditions are corrected
  • Identify, correct and eliminate unsafe conditions, acts or procedures that contributed to the accident
  • Determine if safety regulations were followed
  • Review whether the response at the time of the incident was sufficient. For example, was first aid response timely
  • Fulfil WorkSafeBC legislative requirements and BCGEU collective agreement requirements
  • Determine the cause(s) of the incident and prevent similar incidents in the future

For straightforward investigations, you may be able to combine the preliminary and full investigations, as long as you can complete both within 48 hours. In this case, the worker representative must be a BCGEU and JOHSC member familiar with the work done in the workplace. The Joint Investigation form must be provided to WorkSafeBC.

Flowchart of steps for incident investigations

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

  • Is a member of the BCGEU
  • Is a member of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC)
  • Has completed Incident Investigations training through the Learning Centre
  • Is familiar with the work done in the workplace

Review Worker's Compensation Act - Section 174 and BCGEU Main Agreement - Section 22.5.

If an employee that meets these criteria is not available within 48 hours of the incident, or was involved in the incident being investigated:

  • The worker representative should be a BCGEU member on the JOHSC and be 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. Review Section 176 of the Worker's Compensation Act.

If there are multiple unions on site, please contact AskMyHRIDIR restricted for assistance in choosing a worker representative. Submit a service request with the category Myself (or) My Team/Organization > Workplace Safety > Safety Training and Support.

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

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

Any near miss could become a serious injury under slightly different circumstances. Investigating near misses and correcting the causes can prevent future illness and injury. A near miss is investigated in exactly the same way as an accident.