An easier way to keep track of OHS incident investigations – Speaking of Safety

A new online tool guides employers step by step through incident investigations and tracks incidents, hazards, and risk controls needed for workers’ safety. 

Photo credit: Gettyimages.ca/PIKSEL

Employers are required to investigate certain incidents (including near misses) that happen at work. (See B.C.’s Workers Compensation Act, Part 2, Division 10.). The investigation helps find out what happened, why it occurred, and how to prevent similar incidents from happening.

“Conducting an investigation into a workplace incident isn’t just a regulatory requirement,” says Todd Siefke, a supervisor in WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Field Services. “It’s an essential part of health and safety at every workplace, regardless of size — to assist in identifying hazards and controlling the associated risk.”

(Read how some companies handle near misses in my post What can we learn from near misses?)

A new Employer incident investigations (EIIR): Online reporting tool makes it easier for employers to record the results of their investigations. It allows employers to:

  • Create preliminary and full investigation reports
  • Prepopulate information from a preliminary report
  • Save a partially completed report
  • View any prior reports submitted through online services

So far, more than 400 employers have uploaded data on incidents (including near-miss incidents) since WorkSafeBC launched the tool in March 2022.

A new view of investigation reports

In the past, employers didn’t have a way to see the reports they had submitted. Now, the new online service lets you see those reports and more.

“You can see what you’ve submitted, in the history… in just one place you can manage all of your investigations and meet regulatory requirements,” Todd says. He adds that with the tool you can also create an investigation for your own reference.

Not all your reports will go to WorkSafeBC — only the ones you submit. Todd explains, “We don’t see a report unless it’s submitted. If it ends up being something you need to report to us, just hit ‘Submit.’” (See Reference Guide for Employer Incident Investigations for more information about how and when to submit an investigation report.)

The reports you create stay in the system. You can save preliminary investigation reports, then go back later to view incident history. You’ll also be able to track your progress on risk controls (“corrective actions”) you’ve put in place.

“We wanted to develop more than just a compliance tool,” says Keri Frasca, an operations manager in WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Divisional Services and Credentialling. “It’s about giving employers a tool to do their investigation reports and manage them.” Keri suggests that employers could use the tool to track all incidents, even if they don’t require an investigation under the Act. This would offer employers more extensive insights into their company’s incident patterns.

To use the online reporting tool, you need an online services profile with WorkSafeBC. You can find out more and sign up for one here.

Thank you to Todd and Keri for answering all my questions. I’m always curious to find out more about new technology that makes it easier to “record things” — whatever they may be.

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