It is a fact of life. No matter the efforts of Health and Safety Professionals or the integrity of the management systems and processes established, accidents will happen. All management systems, those relating to Occupational Safety and Health, even those relating to Environment and Quality Assurance deal with the issue of failure.

Within the International Standard relating to Quality Assurance, (ISO 9001), sections relate to Customer complaints and Corrective actions, (in other words courses of action to address failure). A failure within a ‘Safety System’ is by customer and practice referred to as an accident. How they are reported, to whom they are reported, and why they are reported is in some respects a prerequisite of accident prevention.

Often the distinct subjects of accident reporting and accident investigation are linked and dealt with as a unified process. In this paper the author will seek to separate these two subjects and answer the question that is often posed by safety management professionals working overseas, "Just when to I have to ‘report’ an accident?"

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