Getting to the Root of it: A look at Incident Investigations and Root Cause Analysis

When a worker experiences a workplace injury, the first thing most employers think is “How can we make sure this never happens again?” If you’ve had this thought before, you have probably been involved in an Incident Investigation.

A successful Incident Investigation will look beyond the immediate and seemingly most obvious cause of an incident. It is far too easy, and often misleading, to simply land on carelessness or failure to follow a procedure as the main cause of an incident.

Incident investigations that focus on identifying and correcting Root Causes, not on finding fault or placing blame, improve workplace morale and increase productivity, by demonstrating an employer’s commitment to a safe and healthy workplace.

When a Root Cause is identified, it is important to ask why it existed and why it was not previously addressed.

For example:

  • If a procedure or safety rule was not followed, why was the procedure or rule not followed?

  • Did production pressures play a role, and, if so, why were production pressures permitted to jeopardize safety?

  • Was the safety training inadequate? If so, why had better training not been available or offered?

Addressing root causes is necessary to truly understand why an incident occurred, to develop effective corrective actions, and to minimize or eliminate serious consequences from similar future incidents.

How can Service Hospitality help?

Incident Reporting & Investigations – In-Person Training

This course will take participants through the entire Incident Investigation process – from having an effective reporting process, identifying and analyzing Root Causes, to determining effective corrective actions using your results.   *This is a required course for Level 3 of our Hospitality Safety Leadership Certificate Program*


Service Hospitality TV
Episode 24: Incident Investigations

In this video, you will find out that the worker was trained, but other systemic issues created the dangerous situation he was working in, which ultimately led to the injury.


Forms & Templates

Incident Investigation Report Form Template

Near Miss Report Form Template


Incident Cost Calculator

Find out what the cost of an injury would be in your workplace

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