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    IMCA publishes guidance on investigation and reporting of incidents

    Publications // May 21, 2007

    Identifying the true root causes of incidents is key to improving safety on and offshore. In the constant quest for “zero incidents”, the International Marine Contracting Association (IMCA) has published “Guidance on the Investigation and Reporting of Incidents” which aims partly to reflect current practice for setting up incident investigation and reporting procedures, but has the prime aim of getting to grips with the root cause of any incident and thus helping to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    The report goes to great lengths to advise the reader on the actual process of incident investigation and reporting, which is important not only for the avoidance of future incidents by learning from mistakes and root cause analysis, but for its own ends too.

    For example, it explains in easy to understand detail how to look for evidence, how to store that evidence, how to interview witnesses (with example interview questions), how to report interviews, how to conduct site investigation, how to set up an ‘incident room’, and how to story board with a view to producing a logical report. 

    The comprehensive appendix includes useful sample incident (and near-miss) reporting forms and sample incident management review and company investigation report formats.

    “Only by completing a thorough investigation will there be a possibility of determining the true root cause of an incident,” explained IMCA’s technical director, Jane Bugler. “Our new guidance sets out procedures that will help. It can be used by companies constructing their own procedural instructions or by those actually charged with the task of investigating and reporting an incident.

    “For example, an obvious reason for a lifting incident may appear to be a failure of equipment, but the reasons for that failure need to be identified. There could have been a moment in the lead up to the incident, which could be a long time in the past, where the subject risk could have been removed; and it would be instructive to define why it was not.  It is obviously necessary to identify all causal factors in order to aid the prevention of further incidents."

    As Bugler also explained: “Anyone in the workforce could benefit from guidance on incident reporting. Even if someone is not the person actually compiling the report, he or she will understand the process better if they can refer to guidance that explains why they need to provide evidence; and why the scope of the information they need to provide might be far wider than might immediately be apparent. It is very much a win:win situation with the guidance worded to help those who carry out the investigation."

    Copies of the new publication (IMCA SEL 016) are available from www.imca-int.com at £10 for members and £20 for non members (plus delivery outside Europe on all orders). The PDF version is available for download free of charge to members. Copies can also be ordered from IMCA at 5 Lower Belgrave Street, London SW1W 0NR, UK; Tel: +44 (0)20 7824 5520; Fax: +44 (0)20 7824 5521; and publications@imca-int.com

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