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Health and Safety Consultant

Accident and Incident Investigation Training for Employees and Health and Safety Consultants

The Safety, Health, Environment, Risk, and Quality (SHERQ) policy that is in place in South Africa is a policy framework specifically to improve health and safety at work, reduce the environmental impact of companies, ensure optimal risk assessment, and improve quality on all levels of the enterprise. Health and safety forming part of the policy includes activities such as the provision and management of clean and safe work facilities, early and timely identification, control, prevention and management of hazardous risks related to health and safety, and ensuring participation and accountability of all employees in the health and safety management system.

Part of the company’s responsibility is to ensure that employees are trained in the various aspects of health and safety. WWISE offers health and safety related training relevant to different levels of employment and also relevant to the health and safety consultant. One such a course is the Accident & Incident Investigations Course. It focusses on the development of the necessary skills and knowledge for the identification of the root causes of incidents. Once identified, measures can be taken to prevent repeats of such incidents. Attendees of the course learn how to effectively record, report, and investigate any irregularities, non-conformances, and incidents. It is important for enterprises to develop, implement and maintain the necessary health and safety plans, which include procedures for recording, investigating, and analysing any incidents to identify deficiencies in the health and safety system, and factors that may have contributed to specific incidents.

An example is where a worker is severely injured on site while using a grinder. The supervisor is blamed because the incident happened on his shift. However, the supervisor did inform the worker about the risks and the correct procedures for operating the grinder for the particular task. The supervisor also completed the risk assessment and the worker signed it. The worker also needed to take responsibility for his actions. He did receive training in operating the grinder and was aware of the risks and the procedures to follow.

The accident investigating officer reviews the circumstances surrounding the incident, whether the correct procedure has been followed and what the root cause of the incident was. He finds that the worker did not install the blade correctly and because of it, the blade came loose during operation. According to witness reports, the supervisor was at the site and did not see that the worker didn’t follow correct installation procedure. However, the supervisor was also busy overseeing another dangerous task that a fellow worker had to complete.

The investigating officer follows procedure in gathering information, reporting on it and then making recommendations on preventing repeats of the incident. The training received was used to ensure consistency in accident investigation and reporting.

Where a company needs to assess which risks exist and requires help with the implementation of an OHSAS 18001-compliant safety system or a complete SHEQ management system, they will benefit from the expertise of a health and safety consultant. The consultant also completes various training programmes, including the accident investigation course at WWISE, enabling the consultant to provide the necessary expert guidance to the company.

The course, as offered by WWISE, has two modules. Module A covers aspects such as the purpose of investigations, definitions, terminology, and legal responsibilities. Such responsibilities include compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Mine Safety Act. It also covers the Chief Directorate for Mines, and the powers, as well as the rights of accident and incident inspectors. Module B covers insight regarding the various types of incidents at the workplace, including near-misses and where loss of control can lead to incidents. It furthermore covers the incident ratio and the probability of incident recurrence, the cost of an incident, reduction of incidents, investigator role, involvement of employees, how long formal investigations take, what the recording and reporting procedures are for occupational injuries or diseases, and the complete investigation procedure. The latter includes the six questions to ask and how to prepare the investigations kit.

Upon completion of the course, the attendee will be able to identify the root causes, assign the responsibilities, and report on the incident. The attendee will also understand the legislative requirements pertaining to incident investigation reporting (in addition to identifying various types of incidents related to the workplace), analyse the facts, draft the report, make recommendations, follow up on recommendations, and outline the various steps in the investigation.

We recommend enrolment in the course whether you are planning to become a health and safety consultant, want to add to your understanding of Occupational Health & Safety, or want to train relevant employees to become accident investigators.