1st Edition

Simplicity in Safety Investigations A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Safety Science

By Ian Long Copyright 2018
    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This innovative book aims to bring the science of safety into a simple and practical approach to investigating workplace incidents. As a basis, it uses the ideas of some of the great safety science thinkers of our time. These include Sidney Dekker, Todd Conklin, Erik Hollnagel, Daniel Kahneman, James Reason and Dylan Evans, alongside others and the author’s own extensive industry experience.

    Simplicity in Safety Investigations: A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Safety Science will better equip readers to deal with incident investigations by helping them understand the science behind investigation techniques, and by exploring coaching and leadership styles that help them ask better questions both before and after workplace incidents. The first two chapters of the book focus on our mindset as we approach and undertake investigations, and the simple things we all must do before an investigation starts. The third chapter is a step-by-step guide on how to undertake both simple and more detailed workplace incident investigations. Chapter 4 is reserved for a more detailed review and set of explanations around the science and thinking behind the method and approach.

    This book serves as an easy-to-follow, real-world reference for supervisors, managers and safety practitioners across many industries.




    What level of investigation should we do?

    Using this book and the techniques described within it for positive investigations

    Some essentials

    1 Mindset and approach

    2 Before you investigate

    Team formation, structure and roles

    The art of facilitation and using a coaching style

    Your conversations and questions (before and after an event)

    3 The investigation process

    Scene preservation.

    Interviewing (versus taking statements)

    Generous listening

    The interview conversation

    Data and information gathering

    How to run an effective and efficient PEEPO

    Determining Work-As-Done, Work-As-Normal and Work-As-Intended

    Determining Work-As-Done, Work-As-Normal and Work-As-Intended in the case of more detailed incident investigations

    Exploration of the gaps between Work-As-Done, Work-As-Normal and Work-As-Intended

    Build the story (Incident Pathway Statement)

    SMARTS actions


    4 The technical and scientific stuff

    Task complexity, procedural complexity and adequacy, and situational complexity

    Resilience and resilience engineering

    Risk intelligence, risk identification and risk management

    Drift (procedural or practical drift)

    Internal decision and sense-making

    Intense task focus

    Answering a different question

    What-You-See-Is-All-There-Is (WYSIATI) and plan continuation

    Shared Space as it relates To safe work spaces

    Effective ‘core competency training’ and ‘awareness induction’

    Individual actions and assessments

    Systems of work and their interrelationships

    It is all obvious when you know the outcome (hindsight bias)

    Accountability and authority mismatch

    Equipment, tools and plant design

    Task planning, assignment, acceptance and monitoring


    Other cognitive biases and heuristics

    The efficiency – thoroughness trade-off (ETTO)

    5 Conclusion


    A. Interviewing – Having meaningful conversations

    B. Incident Cause Analysis Method (ICAM) process

    Bibliography and reading list.



    Ian Long has worked for over twenty years in Health and Safety roles in the minerals extraction and processing industry. As the managing director of his own consultancy business, he now provides in-the-field coaching and coach-the-coach activities with leaders, along with training and facilitation of fatality and other significant incident investigations.

    "This is not a big book, but it packs a lot of ideas into 142 pages. The author, now a consultant but formerly in a senior OSH post at Australian miner and nickel refiner BHP Billiton, has a lot of experience to draw on but he is also clearly well read. One of the strengths of this book is how he harnesses theories from writers such as Todd Conklin and Daniel Kahneman to the service of accident analysis."

    Stephen Marriot, IOSH Magazine