The need for accident investigation protocols — don’t be caught out by the weather

The recent unseasonal weather conditions have had a chaotic effect, with thousands of people being affected by organisations’ inability to predict and react in a timely and effective fashion to the consequences of unexpected events. As a result, organisations were caught completely unprepared, even though similar issues had arisen in analogous cases in the past, and had no plans in place to enable them to deal with the consequences.

This has put into question organisations’ accident and incident investigation procedures and their ability to proactively assess incidents. Accident investigation protocols are the processes by which organisations review incidents after they have occurred, which enable them to learn from their mistakes and put in place structures to prevent such incidents from arising again in the future or, if they do, to minimise their effect.

Given the continuously increasing level of fines being imposed on organisations for breaches of health and safety laws, being able to show that a properly considered investigation protocol was followed following an incident (a) will show the courts that an organisation is well organised and takes health and safety issues seriously, (b) may keep fines lower by ensuring that losses are mitigated as a result of post-incident actions and (c) may even avoid a prosecution being brought…

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