When near-misses or specific incidents occur in British Columbia workplaces, employers must carry out investigations according to the procedures prescribed by WorkSafeBC. Workplace investigations involve four stages. Incidents requiring investigations include work-related fatalities or serious injuries, near-miss incidents that could have caused severe injuries or death and more. Furthermore, incidents like structural failures, hazardous substance releases or other life-threatening circumstances must be investigated.
Investigations must be conducted by those who understand the nature of the work involved at the time. Representatives of both the workers and employer should be involved in the investigation. Within 48 hours of an incident, employers must conduct a preliminary investigation. It is an opportunity to identify unsafe conditions, procedures or dangerous acts and mitigate the risks in the time leading up to the conclusion of the investigation. This is crucial to ensure there is no reason why work cannot safely resume in the interim.
Corrective measures to take in the interim
The employer must immediately take reasonable actions to prevent recurring incidents. As the investigation proceeds, unsafe conditions must be identified and addressed by taking the necessary corrective actions. When there is no clear indication of what caused the incident, the employer must order partial or full shutdown or reassign workers until the conclusion of the investigation.
Full investigation and corrective actions
The final stage involves an analysis of the findings to determine the underlying causes that contributed to or led to the incident. A full investigation report must be submitted to WorkSafeBC within 30 days of the workplace incident. Several other reports are required to indicate the final corrective measure taken to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents. Compliance with the workplace investigation regulations could play a vital role if an injured employee or surviving family members decide to take legal steps against the employer.