VERTEX has Experts that Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk.

Unlike others, VERTEX provides forensic consulting alongside traditional AEC services which allows for a 360 degree view of your project.

VERTEX Services


Need an expert for your case?

Our forensics experts work alongside AEC specialists which enhances our skills and bolsters the credibility of our expert consultants.

Find an Expert


VERTEX delivers innovative solutions on complex projects globally.

Since 1995, VERTEX has completed over 90,000 projects.

View Portfolio


VERTEX believes in a Lifetime of Learning philosophy.

Stay current with our industry experts as they share their insights and knowledge on the built environment.

View Insights

Grow Your Career

Join Our Team

VERTEX is looking for talented individuals to join a highly technical team of forensic consultants, design engineers, construction managers, and environmental scientists.

Learn More

Contact Us

Have a question or want to speak with a technical professional?

VERTEX is a multi-discipline firm with global coverage. Our international network of resources enables us to provide multi-national clients with the most qualified local professionals who understand the culture, language, and regulatory framework.

Call Us: 888.298.5162

Call Us

Call us at 888.298.5162.

Workplace Incident Investigations

Workplace Incident Investigations

April 28, 2021

In this article, we will take a look at some of the guiding principles used to determine a “workplace incident” and what measures may be taken to respond appropriately.

What is an incident?

ANSI Z10 defines an incident as “an event in which a work-related illness, injury (regardless of severity) or fatality that occurred or could have occurred”. The event is generally predicated by a breakdown or failure to adhere to control measures. An incident does not have to result in an injury or illness; a near miss can represent a condition where it’s better to be lucky than good. In a perfect world, all injuries and near misses are reported/investigated, but such a scenario is usually impractical and may tax limited resources. Therefore, high risk and severity events generally get the spotlight of an investigation.

What is the purpose of an incident investigation?

As mentioned earlier, an incident investigation is used to determine if (and how) a breakdown of controls occurred. If the controls failed, the policies and procedures for that specific activity are re-examined to confirm adequacy. If adequate, the approach can remain unchanged; however, it may be prudent to increase inspection frequency and/or targeted control training (such as administrative, engineering, and PPE). If the analysis determines the controls are inadequate, the entire policy needs to be reviewed and re-evaluated.

Types of Incident Investigations

The types of incident investigations related to safety can span the spectrum. As part of the ANSI Z10 Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle, major incidents are investigated in a measured and logical manner to ensure that a program is working effectively. A core tenet of the analysis involves safety professionals asking “why” until answers lead to the root cause.

The 5 Whys – to pursue for a ‘root cause’ determination, e.g.:

  • The employee cut hand
  • Improper use of circular saw
  • Did not inspect equipment prior to use
  • Guards not in place
  • Improper maintenance of equipment

Ishikawa theory (use of fishbone or “fishikawa” diagram) is based on an evaluation of the contributing factors that lead to the breakdown of controls, specifically:

  • Personnel
  • Method
  • Measurement
  • Machine
  • Environment
  • Materials

Management Oversight and Risk Tree (MORT) is based on an evaluation of the managerial procedures in place, consisting of specific controls and management systems to determine where the breakdown occurred.

  • Follow uncontrolled energy (potential, mechanical, pneumatic, electric, thermal, radioactive, stored, etc.) and the reasons why the controls either were not in use or removed.

The purpose of all incident investigations is not to lay blame but to probe the hierarchy of control failure points and identify what measures can be taken to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future!

To learn more about VERTEX’s Occupational Health & Safety services or to speak with a Safety Expert, call 888.298.5162 or submit an inquiry.

Author: Steven Marcassoli

Related Services

Construction Health & Safety

Construction Health & Safety

VERTEX provides Construction Health & Safety Consulting and Management services globally to a variety of clients.

Learn More

Construction Health & Safety

Environmental Health & Safety

VERTEX provides Environmental Health & Safety Consulting and Management services globally to a variety of clients.

Learn More

Back to Insights