Accidents and investigations


Monitor the effectiveness of the measures you put in place to control the risks in your workplace. As part of your monitoring, you should investigate incidents to ensure that corrective action is taken, learning is shared and any necessary improvements are put in place.

Investigations will help you to:

  • identify why your existing control measures failed and what improvements or additional measures are needed

  • plan to prevent the incident from happening again

  • point to areas where your risk assessment needs reviewing

  • improve risk control in your workplace in the future

Reporting incidents should not stop you from carrying out your own investigation to ensure risks in your workplace are controlled efficiently.

An investigation is not an end in itself, but the first step in preventing future adverse events that includes:

  • accident: an event that results in injury or ill health

  • incident:

  • near miss: an event not causing harm, but has the potential to cause injury or ill health (in this guidance, the term near miss will include dangerous occurrences)

  • undesired circumstance: a set of conditions or circumstances that have the potential to cause injury or ill health, eg untrained nurses handling heavy patients

  • dangerous occurrence: one of a number of specific, reportable adverse events, as defined in the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)


Investigating accidents and incidents:

Every year people are killed or injured at work. Over 40 million working days are lost annually through work-related accidents and illesses.

This workbook gives organisations the opportunity to find out what went wrong and identify risks they can easily avoid. Learning lessons and taking action may reduce, or even prevent, accidents in the future.

As a step-by-step guide, it will help all organisations to carry out their own health and safety investigations. Investigating accidents and incidents explains why you need to carry out investigations and takes you through each step of the process:

  • Gathering information

  • Analysing the information

  • Identifying risk control measures

  • The action plan and its implementation



Personal protective equipment (PPE)



Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work.PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).


Why is PPE important?

Making the workplace safe includes providing instructions, procedures, training and supervision to encourage people to work safely and responsibly.

Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain. These include injuries to:

  • the lungs, eg from breathing in contaminated air

  • the head and feet, eg from falling materials

  • the eyes, eg from flying particles or splashes of corrosive liquids

  • the skin, eg from contact with corrosive materials

  • the body, eg from extremes of heat or cold

PPE is needed in these cases to reduce the risk.

What do I have to do?

  • Only use PPE as a last resort

  • If PPE is still needed after implementing other controls (and there will be circumstances when it is, eg head protection on most construction sites), you must provide this for your employees free of charge

  • You must choose the equipment carefully (see selection details below) and ensure employees are trained to use it properly, and know how to detect and report any faults

Selection and use

You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is exposed and to what?

  • How long are they exposed for?

  • How much are they exposed to?

When selecting and using PPE:

  • Choose products which are CE marked in accordance with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 – suppliers can advise you

  • Choose equipment that suits the user – consider the size, fit and weight of the PPE. If the users help choose it, they will be more likely to use it

  • If more than one item of PPE is worn at the same time, make sure they can be used together, eg wearing safety glasses may disturb the seal of a respirator, causing air leaks

  • Instruct and train people how to use it, eg train people to remove gloves without contaminating their skin. Tell them why it is needed, when to use it and what its limitations are

Writing a health and safety policy


Your business must have a health and safety policy, and if you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write anything down.

Most businesses set out their policy in three sections:

  • The statement of general policy on health and safety at work sets out your commitment to managing health and safety effectively, and what you want to achieve

  • The responsibility sectionsets out who is responsible for specific actions

  • The arrangements sectioncontains the detail of what you are going to do in practice to achieve the aims set out in your statement of health and safety policy

The arrangements section should say how you will meet the commitments you have made in your statement of health and safety policy. Include information on how you are going to eliminate or reduce the risks of hazards in your workplace.

Additional arrangements

The additional actions you take to manage health and safety should be set out in the arrangements section of your policy. They could include:

  • staff training

  • using signs to highlight risks

  • improved safety equipment, such as guards or additional personal protective equipment, including goggles, safety boots or high-visibility clothing

  • replacing hazardous chemicals with less harmful alternatives

  • improved lighting

  • anti-slip flooring

What do we mean by ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’?

hazard is something in your business that could cause harm to people, such as chemicals, electricity and working at height. A risk is the chance – however large or small – that a hazard could cause harm.

“Focus your attention on the activities that could present a risk to people or cause serious harm.”