Most accident/incident investigations tend to look at the injury or incident from an external perspective. In other words, somebody else (typically) investigates the incident or injury instead of the person who was hurt doing the investigation themselves. Obviously, in the case of a very serious injury or fatality, this makes perfect sense because it would be impossible to do the investigation from a hospital bed or the morgue.

But in other cases where the person wasn't seriously injured, it is still much more common for someone else to investigate it. Why? Well, again, some obvious explanations come to mind: "We want it to be impartial, we want it to be fair, only highly trained and skilled individuals are competent" and so on…

However, if the purpose of doing the investigation is not to lay blame (at least that's what everybody says) but only to prevent the same thing from happening again, why is it that the highly trained, skilled and competent people who investigate accidents—in some cases hundreds of accidents—don't do it for themselves when they get hurt?

For example, years ago I went to a seminar on accident/incident investigation put on by one of the safest companies in the world. One of the instructors doing the seminar had a fresh gash about the size of a nickel on the top of his head. Since he didn't have much hair, it was very noticeable. He had investigated many (many) injuries and incidents in his career before he became a seminar leader.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.