We asked one of our NEBOSH tutors who teach the NEBOSH & HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation course, Kevin Coley, some important questions about this great NEBOSH course.
Can you give us an overview of your background in health and safety, and any related qualifications?
I am a Chartered Member of the Institute of Occupational Health (CMIOSH) I have a Nebosh diploma and Nebosh certificates in Occupational Health, Construction, Fire, Oil and Gas and Wellbeing. I have an MSc in Work Psychology so have good knowledge on the work/human interface. I am a Nebosh Principal Examiner on the Construction certificate. I have worked in heavy engineering – producing titanium in a large foundry type workplace where LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) would be significant drivers of safety. Then in the care industry as a safety practitioner involved with work-related stress, and lastly for Birmingham City Council developing strategy and a very wide portfolio including care homes, schools and construction activities etc.
What industries have you worked in within health and safety?
I worked in heavy engineering for many years mostly in a managerial role including Production Manager. I then moved to a regional safety officers’ role for a government body (CAFCASS) and becoming their National Health and Safety manager. I then moved into consultancy work and finally onto the local authority (Birmingham City Council) as their Senior Safety Practitioner.
Drawing again from your background, what practical experience do you have that relates to the course?
I have conducted many accident investigations to establish the causes. If incidents can be ranked in size the biggest would be the explosion of a vacuum arc melting furnace through to employees complaining of headaches (which transpired to be due to a build-up of carbon dioxide). I have also seen the benefit to the organisation of identifying root causes to prevent further loss. I also realise its very easy to blame people- especially the person who has had the accident- but I have good knowledge on human behaviour and understand why people make mistakes- sometimes they are deliberate and sometimes a simple case of memory failure.
What do you like about this course?
It demonstrates good interview techniques using the PEACE model for interview. Better than that- it provides video evidence of the techniques in action so the candidate can see how the model might be applied. The course also takes students through a proven methodology of gather information etc to ensure a structured approach in the investigation. Finally, students undertake a ‘5 whys’ analysis to establish the immediate/underlying and root causes of the incident. The course is targeted at a ‘minimal level’ of investigation – so for less serious incidents – but the learning can be applied to make all incidents more understandable and reduce the possibility of repeating.
What do you think people that take this course can get out of it?
The diligent student – someone who wants to learn- will gain a clear understanding of how to interview someone to gain maximum information from witnesses. Witnesses are often key areas of information for the incident investigation but key skills are required to access that information. Many people will also have the opinion that the ‘5 whys’ methodology is simply to ask ‘why’ five times. This can be a very repetitive way of interviewing someone and is unlikely to gain the best information. This course puts more structure around that methodology and will open up routes to gaining more information from key witnesses.
Who would you recommend this course to?
I think every manager should attend this course. Responsibility for safe systems of work rests with the employer- represented by the manager. They (managers) have a very clear interest in understanding why a safe system has failed and injury to an employee has resulted. Managers are usually very keen to understand costs, but most managers do not understand the costs of an accident at work- costs go further than the provision of sick pay!