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It's not just about the investigation. A PNG experience.

Many articles are written around the need to investigate an Incident or Failure no matter what that Incident or Failure is, we must identify its cause to prevent a recurrence.

A recent Safety Wise ICAM project in the highlands of Papua New Guinea brought about a refreshing focus on the forgotten reasons why there is a need to complete an investigation of an Incident or Failure.

To set the scene;

We are in the Highlands of PNG with a group of people who work in the mining and related industry, they represent the many provinces of the PNG mainland and surrounding islands. There are also representatives from other countries in the group.

It is normal for the “local guys” to spend a few days travelling from their home village to their work location and start their shift rotation, they are happy to do this because they are supporting their families and developing their Skills and careers no matter how old they may be.

I am the facilitator who along with the Safety Wise team developed a specific ICAM Lead Investigator course to meet the needs of the work groups at this site.

I have had the opportunity to work in PNG on an array of projects over the last 14 years and experienced the unique culture that exists in PNG, unique to each of the provinces so training must be modified to suit - no one size fits all, that's the lazy approach.

Safety Wise has a unique advantage in that each Safety Wise Consultant is picked, not recruited and that means quality and a very wide knowledge base to draw from. The consultants are not just trained investigators but people who have started their working lives developing their careers in specialty areas collecting invaluable skills of connecting professions along the way.

The ICAM investigators bring to the site an array of skills to deliver the investigator courses or conduct a live investigation.

On opening the first day of a tailored 3-day course for this group an array of questions were fielded, these were in relation to:

  • Environmental incidents

  • Commercial incidents

  • Mining open cut incidents

  • Heavy vehicle truck incidents

  • Light vehicle incidents

  • Drill and Blast incidents

  • Hygiene incidents

  • Security and security guard animal incidents and the list continued.

For the first two day’s we covered the course material step by step linking the above questions to a relevant step in the process, ensuring it was relevant and linked to real-life example and practiced with a Case Study. Each Safety Wise consultant has exposure in these areas of activity, gained from many years working in and with a wide range of industries from general consulting through to investigating Significant Incidents around the world.

So back to the PNG 3-day course.

First test passed- gaining the confidence of the group through linking questions to real experience examples, obtaining "buy in" and credibility.

The second test was a vastly different experience than you would normally see in the current climate, this was in the form of a group question "what will this training give me so I can help the company and help develop my colleagues" how often do you hear that, not often I bet.

The third test “can we study any area of information we are not sure of with you after the day has ended” - not "what time does the course finish"!

Finally, a test I give every team I have worked with over the many years and this is part of the forgotten reason we investigate an Incident or Failure. About halfway into the training, the process is unfolding and they see the logical steps, then I ask -"Why do we investigate"

The standard answers over the years are:

  • To prevent a recurrence

  • To understand the incident

  • To identify the hazards

  • To manage any risk

  • To identify the Route Cause and others related to the above that are all important and honourable aims for an investigation.

It is very rare I hear the reply, “To save my colleagues from getting hurt”

Then the reason no one usually volunteers, "To save the company money - manage Efficiency"

This may seem a distorted aim but turn this question around, why do most incidents not get investigated?

The reasons given are the perceived cost to the business of resources required to conduct a quality investigation, where in fact it aids efficiency and so much more.

Mature businesses realise this to be part of their continuous improvement, the investigation must be part of ‘how we do business around here”.

These guys got it in one, it was a breath of fresh air-very fresh actually as it's damn cool up there.

Other Languages

Safety Wise has also translated ICAM tools and regularly delivers training in the following languages-

  • French

  • Portuguese

  • Russian

  • Spanish

  • Indonesian

  • Chinese

  • Italian

Interested In Knowing More?

Further information on Safety Wise’s ICAM Training, Products and Services is available from our website:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR- Steve Horne (Investigator/Trainer)

After a successful career in government service and completing his post-graduate studies, Steve applied his skills to industry, initially working in the refinery and construction industries.

This led to successful terms with the transport and chemical industries before moving to mining. These roles included engagement overseas and in Australia and led to a series of managerial roles in occupational health safety and training, including environmental portfolios on occasions. These roles included underground and open pit operations in a diverse mining group of products from coal to iron ore and gold.

After recognising a need for quality training within his chosen profession, Steve entered the legislative training arena working with CCIQ and ATBS delivering Certificate IV, Safety Officer, Safety Representative and associated legislative training.

In 2009 Steve qualified as a Principal Consultant with Safety Wise and now facilitates investigations and investigation training in Australia and overseas.

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