6 things you can take from a Health and Safety incident

Health and safety measures and procedures are put in place to prevent accidents and incidents but no matter how hard we try, accidents will happen. And when they do, it is important to learn from the incident. What things should we be looking for post-incident?



1 What strong emotions came to the fore?

Accidents have been described as a ‘window onto reality’. You think you have everything covered, every hazard identified and every risk minimised. Accidents and incidents bring out strong emotions in people and so it’s important to learn what support you have in place for the injured person (if there is one) and colleagues. It may be that you also need to support family too.

2 was what the state of readiness?

Accidents and incidents don’t phone ahead to allow you time to be prepared and when they do happen, they test your organisation’s state of readiness for an incident.

So, how prepared were you? Did people respond in the way they should or thought they would do? Were procedures followed?

3 How were different agendas handled?

The aftermath of an incident can be a volatile time. Accidents in the workplace draw attention from very different agencies and bodies, such as the HSE and the press. All of them will arrive with different agendas and different roles in determining what happened, how it happened and so on.

What can be created is a closed, tense atmosphere in which people feel they are being blamed or found at fault. Managing this is a difficult but essential skill. You may want to consider if this is a skill that is currently lacking and requires training.

4 Was leadership post-incident effective?

If there is ever a time when colleagues and staff need a leader, it is in the immediate aftermath of an incident and then for some time to come. A leader needs to grasp the situation quickly and with confidence.

As in the previous point, a leader will need to bring stability, balance and direction, whilst managing conflicting agendas but ‘protecting’ the integrity of the business and its people. Essentially, a leader will want to learn from the incident and use these lessons to improve health and safety overall.

5 How scaled was the response?

No company is ‘used’ to incidents or accidents and so when one does occur – a rarity in the life of the company or organisation – the temptation is to throw every single resource at the post-incident investigation. But was this needed?

Response to incidents must be prioritised and scaled. In other words, a measured response that fits the scale of the incident will yield the same results but will allow for basic business processes to continue.

6 Was the post-investigation processes useful? Did it yield results?

As an organisation, you will want to objectively assess what happened and why (without apportioning blame). You will want to learn how to prevent such an incident again, but you will also want to understand how well you, as a company and a team, responded to an incident so rare that you think it will never happen.

How can we help you?

If you are in need of assistance with any aspect of Health and Safety management, here at Synergos we’d be delighted to help. Whether you have questions or are looking for advice and support to maintain standards, call 01484 666160 or Email info@synergosconsultancy.co.uk and we’ll be happy to talk it over with you.


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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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