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We are excited to be introducing a terrific new training course here at AlertForce in May. Based on the ICAM model, our Strategic Incident Investigation training will offer the best, most clearly explained, accessible and practical training on incident investigation that you can get. Investigations that identify the causes of an incident and ultimately mitigate risk are good investigations and that’s what we are all about training you to provide.

What is the role of ICAM as investigation methodology?

Accidents happen. It’s a fact of life and a fact of work. Analysing them, learning from them, and ultimately reducing their occurrence is the best way to deal with them and ICAM is the most effective investigation methodology for doing this.

ICAM stands for incident cause analysis method. It’s a safety initiative for use in a whole array of industries including aviation, road, mining, rail, security and health that was developed by the CEO of Safety Wise, Gerry Gibb, and draws on the work of Professor James Reason. You might be wondering what a psychologist has got to do with industrial safety. Well, Reason is an organisational psychologist with expertise in the area of human and organisational error. So yep, he knows his stuff when it comes to the human tendency to, well, stuff up.

ICAM is about going beyond the obvious or superficial reason for an accident or incident. Rather, it aims to identify the underlying factors that may have contributed to the incident and to the context in which they occurred. In this sense, it’s a holistic approach that takes into account any weaknesses that might be lying dormant with the organisation itself. ICAM takes into consideration things like organisational culture, training, communication and operating procedures. When you can nail down to this level, you can start to build a system that is more resilient and less likely to produce errors.


What is the role of an ICAM investigator?

It’s not quite like CSI and definitely not as glamorous, but an ICAM investigator takes their work just as seriously as Horatio Caine takes his grisly murder investigations and the questions they must answer in the course of an investigation are actually pretty similar. They boil down to:

  1. What happened?
  2. Why did it happen?
  3. What are we going to do about it?
  4. What have we learned that we can share?

These are known as Absent or Failed Defences.

The next step is to look at the Individual or Team Actions that contributed to the incident. These are the mistakes or violations of procedure that led to the accident and might involve something like an employee mishandling a piece of equipment or machinery.

Then you’re going to take a good look at the Task or Environmental Conditions that influenced the human and equipment performance. For example, was the staff member adequately trained for that particular task? Where they provided with the right tools? Were they under pressure to get the task finished faster than was reasonable?

The answers to these sorts of questions will inevitably lead you to look at contributing Organisational Factors which could include things like workplace culture, and management decisions. Often these organisational issues have been there, undetected until a perfect workplace storm reveals them.

Once you’ve got the root causes analysed, it’s time to get some recommendations in place. These might range from immediate improvements like issuing maintenance workers with non-slip shoes, to bigger picture learnings about communication between different departments or updated policies and procedures for a particular area of a workshop.

The ultimate aim of an incident investigation is not just to identify what happened in a particular incident, but to make a system more robust and less likely to promote or encourage situations where adverse situations can arise.

There’s no question then as to the benefit of incident investigation training to an organisation. The ability to thoroughly investigate workplace incidents should tie in with the rest of the organisation’s work health and safety measures. Having investigators who understand what needs to be done in the wake of a workplace incident is critical to contributing to providing a safe work environment.

Our new course in incident root cause analysis and risk mitigation at AlertForce will make the ICAM methodology accessible and easy to understand. ICAM is pretty dense stuff with a lot of theory to take in. And we know that there’s nothing worse than leaving a course feeling so overwhelmed that you can’t even remember what you learnt. Our course breaks down all the essential information you need to know into a format that will leave participants knowing that they have what it takes to undertake investigations thoroughly and effectively.

Our course will be up and running in May. If you’re keen to enrol or just want to find out more, give us a buzz and we can make sure you’re notified as soon as the course opens for applicants.

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