Simplicity in Safety Investigations : A Practitioner's Guide to Applying Safety Science book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781138097735
Published September 5, 2017 by Routledge
152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents




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.


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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