Be Ready to Act

Successful investigations require planning and preparation. To be ready to act quickly and effectively, have established processes with clearly defined roles and responsibilities assigned to specific people.

Have an Emergency Response Plan

If anybody is injured in the crash, it is critical to have a process that quickly mobilizes emergency resources to the scene. Drivers and passengers must know what to do if they are involved in a crash. Others in the company - emergency responders, managers, supervisors and the people who will take part in the investigation - need to know their role. Decide on the actions, and who will do them. Write it down. Communicate it widely, and make it readily accessible. Provide employees with necessary training and resources so they can reliably deliver on their responsibilities.

Having an emergency response system that works is so important that many companies regularly use "mock incidents" to practice their system. Doing so helps responders learn their roles and rehearse the actions they will take. Testing your response system helps identify gaps you can fix before a real incident occurs. Make sure your organization has an effective emergency response system so that employees involved in a crash get the help they need as soon as possible.

Know the Reporting Requirements

Depending on the circumstances and consequences, there are legal requirements for reporting incidents to the police, the insurance company (ICBC) and WorkSafeBC. Establish in advance who will make those reports. Set clear criteria for reporting incidents internally. For example, a company might set the following thresholds:

  1. All incidents that involve a company-owned vehicle(s) or an employee-owned vehicle(s) used for work must be immediately reported to the supervisor.
  2. Crashes in which anybody is injured must be immediately reported to a senior manager.

Make sure your contractors and sub-contractors are clear on their reporting duties.

Have a Notification Procedure

If an employee is injured in a crash, family members, co-workers, clients and customers may be concerned and want to know what happened. The media may have questions. Know what information the company will share and who will assemble and communicate those facts. Notes or well-worded scripts will help communicate sensitive messages. 

Create a Policy

The management team working with the safety committee should develop a policy that describes the kinds of crashes the company will investigate, and the scope of those investigations. Below is an example of how your organization might word it's investigation policy.

Example Investigation Policy

[insert company name] will investigate:

  • all motor vehicle incidents involving company-owned or employee-owned vehicles used for work purposes, and
  • near misses with potential for serious harm.

Investigations will focus on:

  • identifying basic causes - learning why the incident or near miss occurred,
  • determining what can be done to overcome those causes, and
  • recommending actions (how) to prevent similar incidents or near misses.
Set realistic investigation thresholds based on available resources. For example, if the organization does not have enough time or people to investigate every MVI, it might decide to thoroughly investigate incidents that resulted in - or had potential to result in - an injury to someone or property damage of more than $10,000.

Know Who Will Gather Crash Site Information

If they intend to investigate a crash, managers need to quickly know how they will get necessary information. Can an employee at the scene gather it? Or, should they send a company representative - a manager or other employee with necessary skills and tools, or perhaps a qualified third party? Click here for guidance that will help managers make timely decisions.

Identify Who Will Participate in Investigations

A big part of an effective investigation is mobilizing it as soon as possible. To do that, the organization should identify who will participate in investigations before a crash occurs. Build a team that has the right expertise, and that meets requirements of Part 2 Division 10 of the Workers Compensation Act. Include:

  • someone who has incident investigation training and knows how to apply the process and tools.
  • someone familiar with the driving your employees do and who will offer practical perspectives, questions and ideas (e.g., a supervisor knows the work, and can act quickly to implement key recommendations).
  • a management representative who understands the business and its interests.
  • a member of the joint health and safety committee, or a worker representative.

Not all incidents require the same time and resources. One or two people can investigate minor incidents. Crashes that result in fatalities, serious injuries or significant property or environmental damage deserve greater diligence. You might want to engage the specialized skills of an external investigator or a Collision Analyst.

Ensure employees who will participate in investigations have the training necessary to fulfill their roles. And, because crashes never happen at a convenient time, have a back-up person for each role in case a member of the investigation team is unavailable.

Choose a Technique

There are several incident investigation techniques that you could use to investigate and understand motor vehicle crashes. Some are simple linear models that work on the premise that one factor (a condition or action) leads to the next, eventually resulting in the incident. More complex non-linear models recognize that several factors interact at the same time and their combined influence leads to the incident.

To learn more about causation models and investigation techniques, click on the resources below.

  • Overview of Investigation Techniques

  • Event and Causal Factor Analysis

    In this straightforward and widely applied method, investigators gather information to establish the sequence of events around the incident. A key strength of this method is that it uses charts and diagrams to illustrate what happened, providing a framework to explain relationships between events and causal or contributing factors.

    Learn more: Event and Causal Factor Analysis

  • Systematic Cause Analysis Technique

    Developed by Det Norske Veritas, SCAT is a version of root cause analysis in which users work backwards from the incident to identify immediate and basic causes. The SCAT chart helps investigators understand key areas where the organization lacks control, and points them to measures they can implement to repair gaps, and prevent similar future incidents.

    Learn more: Systematic Cause Analysis Technique (SCAT)

  • Barrier Analysis

    Barrier Analysis focuses on energy flows and barriers - equipment, actions or conditions that could have prevented the crash or influenced the sequence of events to decrease the severity of outcomes. This method looks at barriers that were in place but failed, barriers that were available but not used, and barriers that did not exist. Investigators evaluate how each of those figured in the crash and determine how to activate or improve barriers to prevent crashes.

    Learn more: Barrier Analysis

  • Tripod Beta

    Similar to Barrier Analysis, this technique  looks at the chain of events leading up to the consequences (e.g., a crash), the barriers that were in place and intended to stop such a chain of events, and the reasons one of more of those barriers failed, allowing the incident to occur. Tripod Beta does a better job of recognizing and incorporating human factors, which are usually central considerations in MVIs.

    Learn more Tripod Beta

Which Technique Is Right For You?

The method that's best for you is the one that you will actually use. Most often, a straight-forward root cause analysis technique will do a good job of helping you understand the factors that caused or contributed to the crash and what needs to be done to prevent similar events. The next sections describe a system and provide support tools and forms that you can use to conduct constructive MVI investigations.

Continue Reading

The Value of Investigating Motor Vehicle Incidents

Be Ready to Act

Conducting MVI Investigations


Tool Kits