Workplace Incident Investigation

Proper incident investigation at the workplace, including near misses, is necessary to prevent future incidents.

An investigation will determine causes and identify preventive actions. The employer, in consultation with the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative determines who at the workplace will conduct investigations – this may include supervisors, JHSC members or the health and safety representative. Persons designated to conduct investigations should be trained for the task.

In particular, all employers with 20 or more employees must include a system to investigate hazardous incidents as part of their health and safety program. All other workplaces should also establish an incident investigation procedure.

The JHSC may participate in investigations and especially those incidents that must be reported to WorkSafeNB.

Effective investigations can prevent recurrences. They should find facts – not find fault or lay blame. They must include recommendations to prevent a repeat incident.

A workplace incident investigation has several steps:

  • Prompt initial response.
  • Providing first aid and calling emergency services and management/JHSC.
  • Identifying evidence sources– scene/people/witnesses, positions of people/equipment or conditions, parts or physical items/tools, paper documents related to the incident.
  • Analysis of findings.
  • Temporary measures and permanent measures.
  • Document all phases of the investigation.

The scene of an incident that results in a reportable injury or death must not be disturbed until it is cleared by a WorkSafeNB health and safety officer. Any workplace investigation must avoid disturbing the scene and damaging evidence essential to a WorkSafeNB investigation. This may result in the workplace having to delay its investigation until a health and safety officer gives the “all clear”.

Only under the following conditions can a scene be disturbed:

  • Under a health and safety officer’s direct order.
  • To attend to persons injured or killed.
  • To prevent further injuries.
  • To protect property that is endangered as a result of the accident.

Occupational health and safety officers are authorized to investigate workplace incidents. The incidents most likely to be investigated are those that must be reported by employers under Section 43 of the OHS Act.

Finally, an effective investigation starts with prompt reporting; employees are responsible to report incidents to their employer and in turn employers to WorkSafeNB.

“officer” means an occupational health and safety officer appointed under section 5 of the OHS Act

S.N.B. 1983, c. O-0.2


Section 8.1

8.1 (1) Every employer with 20 or more employees regularly employed in the Province shall establish a written health and safety program, in consultation with the committee or the health and safety representative, that includes provisions with respect to the following matters:

(a) the training and supervision of the employees in matters necessary to their health and safety;

(b) the preparation of written work procedures and codes of practice for the implementation of health and safety work practices, required by this Act, the regulations or by any order made in accordance with this Act;

(c) the identification of the types of work for which the work procedures are required at the places of employment of the employer;

(d) a hazard identification system that includes

(i) evaluation of the place of employment to identify potential hazards,

(ii) procedures and schedules for inspections, and

(iii) procedures for ensuring the reporting of hazards, prompt follow-up and control of the hazards;

(e) a system for the prompt investigation of hazardous occurrences to determine their causes and the actions needed to prevent recurrences;

(f) a record management system that includes reports of employee training, accident statistics, work procedures and health and safety inspections, maintenance, follow-up and investigations; and

(g) monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the program.

(2) The employer shall review its health and safety program at least once each year, in consultation with the committee or the health and safety representative, and shall update the program as required.

(3) The employer shall make a copy of the program and all records available

(a) to the committee or the health and safety representative, and

(b) on request, to an employee at the place of employment or the Commission.

[S.N.B. 2013, c. 15, s. 3]


Section 15 Functions of committee

15. A committee may

(a) make recommendations for the establishment and enforcement of policies involving health and safety practices;

(b) participate in the identification and control of health and safety hazards at the place of employment;

(c) inform employees, supervisors and the employer of existing or potential hazards at the place of employment and of the nature of the risks to their health and safety;

(d) establish and promote health and safety programs for the education and information of the employer, supervisors and employees;

(e) receive, consider and make recommendations to the employer or a supervisor regarding complaints respecting the health and safety of the employees at the place of employment;

(f) maintain records respecting the receipt of, the consideration of and recommendations respecting complaints;

(g) obtain information from the employer respecting the identification of existing or potential hazards of conditions, tools, equipment, devices and machines at the place of employment;

(h) carry out monitoring and measuring procedures by trained committee members where the Commission has determined there is a need for regular monitoring and measuring at the place of employment and has directed the committee to carry out such monitoring and measuring;

(i) investigate any matter referred to in paragraph (e);

(j) participate in all inspections, inquiries, and investigations concerning the health and safety of employees, and in particular the investigation of any matter referred to in section 43;

(k) perform any other duties that

(i) the Commission may assign to a committee;

(ii) may be assigned to a committee by agreement between the employer and the employees, or

(iii) are prescribed by this Act or the regulations.

[S.N.B. 2019, c. 38, s. 8]


Section 43 Notices to Commission of injury to employee or accidental explosion or exposure

43. (1) The employer shall notify the Commission immediately if an employee suffers an injury resulting in

(a) a loss of consciousness,

(b) an amputation,

(c) a fracture other than a fracture to fingers or toes,

(d) a burn that requires medical attention,

(e) a loss of vision in one or both eyes,

(f) a deep laceration,

(g) admission to a hospital facility as an in-patient, or

(h) death.

(2) Where an injury is reported under subsection (1), the employer shall immediately give notification to the committee or to the health and safety representative.

(3) Except as otherwise ordered by an officer, no person shall disturb the scene of an accident that results in serious injury or death except as is necessary

(a) to attend to persons injured or killed;

(b) to prevent further injuries; or

(c) to protect property that is endangered as a result of the accident.

(4) The employer shall notify the Commission immediately if

(a) an accidental explosion or an accidental exposure to a biological, chemical or physical agent occurs at a place of employment, whether or not a person is injured, or

(b) a catastrophic event or a catastrophic equipment failure occurs at a place of employment that results, or could have resulted, in an injury.

(5) This section does not apply to a place of employment that is a vehicle if the injury or accident occurs on a public road or highway.

[S.N.B. 1992, c. 52, s. 23; 2001, c. 35, s. 15; S.N.B. 2013, c. 15, s. 6; 2019, c. 16, s. 3]