Date: January 23, 2003 (Rev. 11/16/06)
Editor: N. Gmür
I recently responded to an assessment covering emergency response and preparedness at the NSLS,
and came across the following question:
"Are your supervisors and managers aware of their responsibility to secure accident or incident scenes to preserve evidence for subsequent investigation?"
My initial response was, yes, they are prepared, especially based on their experience. After thinking about this for a while, I realized that here was an opportunity to remind supervisors and managers what they should do. Staff members and beamline personnel will also benefit from this guidance.
Clues to how an accident or an injury occurred are available from the scene itself and from the people involved. It is therefore vital to secure the scene of the incident to both minimize any existing hazards and to assure that nothing is changed until cognizant staff members and safety personnel have had a chance to understand the nature, the severity and the path of the incident.
There may be a need to report the incident, depending on its severity, as well as a need to conduct a follow-up investigation. Proper preservation and management of the scene allows the collection of information vital to the investigation and no longer available once the scene has been repaired and cleaned. Useful Lessons Learned may result from the investigation.