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Who Are The Four Horsemen of Investigations?

This week I've been discussing the Four Horsemen of Investigations and the role they play in undermining our investigation efforts.

So who and what are the Four Horseman of Investigations, and why should we be aware of them?

I see these as four key traits or behaviours that will derail your investigation.

Poor communication- everything about an investigation revolves around communication. From verbal through to written. We use verbal for the briefings, setting the parameters, for interviews and many other aspects. If we get these wrong, the investigation can go off on tangents or we won't dig deep enough and understand what is being said to us. Likewise, written communication comes in for the reports. If we struggle to document clearly what has happened, how it happened, and what we need to do to prevent it recurring, then there's a far higher chance that it will happen again.

Complacency- this comes in when we have preconceived ideas on what has already happened or attitudes about the people involved. I repeatedly hear people bemoan "the idiots who don't follow rules" for example. The fact is, we need to approach every investigation with the same rigour that gets us to a point of understanding the who, what, when, where and how of the incident. Incidents happen for a reason, but if we're complacent about it, how will we learn and prevent it from happening again?

Lack of integrity- is really about not following set processes for the investigation or the parameters of the investigation. We must be clear on what we're investigating. We must be clear that if we follow a set process, that we follow it through and fully. Likewise, integrity can come in with the complacency problems mentioned above.

Emotions- it's one thing to investigate an incident. It another to investigate a good friend or work colleague, especially when emotions are running high. As investigators, we need to maintain the level head. We need to ensure that our emotions don't cloud our judgement or work.

Whilst there are many ways for an investigation to be derailed, in our experience, these are the four key ones that will cause the most harm, but also the ones we as individuals have the most control of.

If you'd like our poster on "The Effective Investigator", go to the and download it for free, along with videos, sample reports and other information.

Interested in Knowing More?

Further information on Safety Wise’s Incident Cause Analysis (ICAM) Training is available from our website:

Additional ICAM Related Services

Safety Wise also offers the following additional services for sites that adopt the ICAM investigation analysis method:

  • Quality review of incident investigations using ICAM

  • Participation in investigations as an external/independent party

  • Investigation coaching


ABOUT THE AUTHOR- Luke Dam (Chief Executive Officer)

Luke has worked in various industries over the years including pharmaceutical, retail, manufacturing, and transport including iconic brands like WesFarmers, Goodyear, CSL Limited, and Incitec Pivot Limited.

His work in OHS and learning and development has seen him deliver services to clients, both internal and external as well as managing service delivery teams around the world.

Luke holds a Graduate Certificate of Management (Learning) as well as a Diploma of Occupational Health and Safety, a Diploma of Training and Assessment Systems, a Certificate IV Workplace Training and Assessment, a Certificate III in Mine Emergency Response & Rescue and a Certificate II in Public Safety (SES Rescue).

Luke is extensively involved in a project to establish an association dedicated to confined space safety and to drive change in legislation to promote best-practice in this high-risk area. Luke is passionate about online OHS and incident investigation communities, moderating a number of large LinkedIn groups boasting over 11,000 members globally.


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