Investigating accidents, hazards and complaints

Agree a system for informing the representative if an incident occurs and involve them in investigations as soon as possible. Such incidents can be vital signals that your way of preventing or reducing risks and dangers is not working. Proper investigation can show you where the weaknesses are so you can work towards improving the measures you take.

Following a reportable incident:

Employers must make sure that:

  • they tell the representatives of the action taken and confirm this in writing if they have to take urgent steps to safeguard against further or immediate dangers
  • the representatives see and take copies of relevant documents which employers have kept as part of their records for health and safety management so they can carry out inspection and examination of reportable incidents.

Health and safety representatives must make sure that:

  • when they examine any machinery, plant, equipment or substance in the workplace relevant to the incident, they must not interfere with any evidence that could disturb or destroy factual evidence before a health and safety inspector has thoroughly investigated the incident. Representatives should only inspect once it is safe and appropriate to do so. These inspections could include visual inspection, and discussions with those who know about the circumstances of an incident.
  • when they ask employers for relevant documents for inspection, they should consider reasonable time and circumstances that employers may face in producing such documents.

There may be rare occasions when you need technical expertise outside your business. You and health and safety representatives should decide together where to find such expertise, for example, a university department, technical college, or trade association.

If representatives want to have their own technical advisers, they should agree this with you in advance, although it is advisable to co-operate together with the same competent person. In this case any report or information that the representatives get about specific health and safety matters from their own technical advisers must be shared with you.

Good practice

  • Involve the representative - an investigation involving the health and safety representative can give employees more confidence to co-operate...

Data protection

Where an individual has consented to disclosing their information, you can share the following with health and safety representatives:

  • name of the person;
  • date, time and place of the incident; and
  • nature of the incident.

Accident report forms should include consent for disclosure to a third party for you to inform representatives. This is usually a signed form, perhaps with a tick box or declaration that they have given their permission to share information in the accident record. You can use HSE's Accident Book BI 510 to record accident information in your organisation.

If you do not have consent to share information in the accident record, you can give health and safety representatives anonymous information about the incident. In this case you should consult your employees and their representatives about arrangements to share information so that you can make the best use of the information but also meet data protection requirements.

Inspection of the workplace

Is this page useful?