Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the following article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of SafetyDriven - Trucking Safety Council of BC.

The 4 Stages of Investigating an Incident (and Why You Should Care)

As an employer you are responsible for investigating certain incidents or near-misses that take place in the workplace and submitting an investigation report to WorkSafeBC.  These investigations help employers like you and WorkSafeBC determine why an incident happened and what can be done to prevent similar situations in the future.

Before we delve into the 4 stages of investigating an incident, here are some examples of the types of incidents requiring an investigation:

Employers are responsible for immediately conducting an investigation into any incident that involves:

  • Serious injury to a worker or a worker’s death
  • Injury requiring medical treatment
  • Minor injury, or no injury, but had the potential for causing serious injury
  • Major structural failure or collapse
  • Major release of hazardous substances
  • Diving incident, as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation
  • Dangerous incident involving explosive materials
  • Blasting incident causing personal injury


Section 173 of the Workers Compensation Act provides more details about what incidents employers must investigate.

Investigation Stages

Conducting an investigation into an incident that occurred in your workplace includes four stages. Those conducting the investigation must be knowledgeable about the type of work involved at the time of the incident. An employer and a worker representative must participate, if or as they are available.

The four stages of an investigation are:

  1. Preliminary investigation
    A preliminary investigation is an opportunity for employers to identify any unsafe conditions, acts, or procedures that must be addressed so work can resume safely until a full investigation has been completed. Employers must complete a preliminary investigation and accompanying report within 48 hours of an incident.
  2. Interim corrective actions
    During the period between the incident and the conclusion of the full investigation, an employer is responsible for taking all actions reasonably necessary to prevent the incident from happening again. If you can identify only some of the unsafe conditions, acts, or procedures that significantly contributed to the incident, interim corrective actions may include a full or partial shutdown of the worksite, removal of equipment, or reassignment of workers to other duties.
  3. Full investigation
    A full investigation is about determining an incident’s cause or causes. This involves carefully analyzing the facts and circumstances to identify the underlying factors that led to the incident. Key questions to ask include:

    • What factors made the unsafe conditions, act, or procedures possible?
    • Are there any health and safety deficiencies in my management system or processes?

    A full investigation and report must be completed within 30 days of the incident.

  4. Final corrective actions
    Once a full investigation has been completed, as an employer you must prepare a corrective action report that describes the unsafe conditions that led to the incident, what corrective action is necessary, and the steps you and your organization will take to implement those actions.

More information on reporting incidents to WorkSafeBC can be found here, and on our website here.

SafetyDriven – TSCBC’s advisors are available to answer any questions you may have regarding the investigation and reporting of both incidents and near-misses.

Taking the initiative and learning now will save you lots of time.

Especially when it’s free for members.

To get started call 1-877-414-8001 or 604-888-2242.

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