Unit of competency details

BSBOHS508B - Participate in the investigation of incidents (Release 1)


ReleaseStatusRelease date
1 1 (this release)Current 10/Mar/2009

Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to BSBWHS505A - Investigate WHS incidentsTerminology updated to reflect new work health and safety legislation. Unit revised to focus on being responsible for investigating incidents rather than participating in the investigation - EQUIVALENT. 17/Dec/2012

Training packages that include this unit


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 061301 Occupational Health And Safety  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 061301 Occupational Health And Safety  25/Jul/2008 
The content being displayed has been produced by a third party, while all attempts have been made to make this content as accessible as possible it cannot be guaranteed. If you are encountering issues following the content on this page please consider downloading the content in its original form

Modification History

Not applicable.

Unit Descriptor

Unit descriptor 

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to participate in the planning, conduct and reporting of investigations of incidents which have resulted in, or have a potential to result in, injury or damage. Situations may range from relatively minor through to major incidents.

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.

Application of the Unit

Application of the unit 

This unit applies to individuals with managerial responsibility for occupational health and safety (OHS) who are required to participate in the investigation of incidents for prevention. It includes conducting an initial assessment of the situation; establishing the scope and legal parameters of the investigation; conducting a systematic analysis to identify underlying causes and actions for prevention; and reporting on the outcomes of the investigation.

This competency may be applied to both straightforward investigations as well as formal investigations of complex situations.

Where the investigation is of a complex situation or the application of the skills and knowledge is in a larger organisation, procedures for incident investigation should exist. In smaller organisations there may not be existing investigation procedures and external OHS expertise should be accessed where required.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not applicable.


Prerequisite units 

Employability Skills Information

Employability skills 

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Facilitate initial assessment of the situation

1.1. Check area to ensure it is safe and that arrangements have been made to meet initial needs of those involved in the incident

1.2. Establish and maintain integrity of the site and personnel in accordance with legal requirements and to ensure objectivity of information collected

1.3. Identify statutory and legal obligations and, if required, advise relevant government agencies 

1.4. Notify key persons within the organisation 

1.5. Determine factors affecting the complexity  of the investigation

1.6. Identify stakeholders and interested parties , and notify as appropriate

2. Participate in the establishment of investigation processes

2.1. Access and understand organisational policies and procedures for incident investigation

2.2. Convene investigation team  appropriate to the level of the investigation

2.3. Define scope of the investigation taking account of legislative requirements

2.4. Facilitate involvement of interested parties in accordance with legislative requirements

2.5. Identify and source resources required to conduct the investigation, including the need for expert advice, if required

2.6. Identify and address barriers to investigation 

2.7. Ensure action plans and time lines are developed by the investigation team

3. Collect information and data for analysis

3.1. Identify and access sources of information and data

3.2. Inspect incident site, equipment and other evidence

3.3. Facilitate information and data gathered by others

3.4. Take and record statements, photographs, measurements and documentary evidence, taking account of objectivity, confidentiality and legal implications

3.5. Appropriately secure site, evidence and all necessary documentation

3.6. Appropriately involve members of the investigation team

4. Analyse information and data gathered to identify immediate and underlying causes and practical prevention measures

4.1. Ensure the investigation team understands and identifies the conceptual basis for the analysis 

4.2. Construcy time line of events  leading up to incident

4.3. Research causative event /

4.4. Identify conditions and circumstances  that contribute to the causative event

4.5. Identify intervention points on the time line for prevention

4.6. Identify strategies to prevent the re-occurrence of the incident

5. Compile investigation report

5.1. Document results of analysis in a format to suit the required target audience  and legal requirements

5.2. Phrase report in objective terms and cite evidence and reasons for conclusions

5.3. Include recommendations for prevention in report

5.4. Disseminate relevant information and data to key personnel, stakeholders and external agencies as appropriate, following appropriate authorisation

5.5. Use findings from the report to develop further prevention strategies

Required Skills and Knowledge


This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • analytical skills to:
  • identify areas for improvement with OHS incidents
  • analyse relevant workplace information and data, and to make observations of workplace tasks and interactions between people, their activities, equipment, environment and systems
  • contribute to the assessment of resources needed to systematically manage OHS and, where appropriate, access resources
  • attention to detail when making observations and recording outcomes
  • research skills to access relevant OHS information and data
  • numeracy skills to carry out simple arithmetical calculations (e.g. % change) and to produce graphs of workplace information and data, to identify trends and recognise limitations
  • technological skills to use basic measuring equipment including reading scales and dials applicable to selected hazards
  • communication skills to:
  • conduct effective formal and informal meetings and to communicate effectively with personnel at all levels of the organisation, OHS specialists and, as required, emergency services personnel
  • prepare reports for a range of target groups including OHS committee, OHS representatives, managers and supervisors
  • use language and literacy skills appropriate to the workgroup and the task
  • consultation and negotiation skills to develop plans, and to implement and monitor designated actions
  • project management skills to achieve change in OHS matters
  • organisational skills to manage own tasks within a timeframe
  • information technology skills to access and enter internal and external information and data on OHS and to use a range of communication media.

Required knowledge 

  • basic principles of incident causation and injury processes
  • characteristics, mode of action and units of measurement of major hazard types
  • concept of common law duty of care
  • ethics related to professional practice
  • formal and informal communication and consultation processes, and key personnel related to communication
  • hierarchy of control and considerations for choosing between different control measures, such as possible inadequacies of particular control measures
  • how the characteristics and composition of the workforce impact on risk and the systematic approach to managing OHS, for example:
  • communication skills
  • cultural background/workplace diversity
  • gender
  • labour market changes
  • language, literacy and numeracy
  • structure and organisation of workforce e.g. part-time, casual and contract workers, shift rosters, geographical location
  • workers with specific needs
  • internal and external sources of OHS information and data
  • organisational OHS policies and procedures
  • language, literacy and cultural profile of the workgroup
  • legislative requirements for OHS information and data, and consultation
  • methods of providing evidence of compliance with OHS legislation
  • nature of workplace processes (including work flow, planning and control) and hazards relevant to the particular workplace
  • organisational culture as it impacts on the workgroup
  • organisational OHS policies and procedures
  • other functional areas that impact on the management of OHS
  • principles and practices of continuity and validity of evidence retention for potential legal action
  • principles and practices of systematic approaches to managing OHS
  • requirements for record keeping that addresses OHS, privacy and other legislation
  • requirements for reporting under OHS and other relevant legislation including notification and reporting of incidents
  • requirements under hazard specific OHS legislation and codes of practice
  • rights of OHS inspectors
  • roles and responsibilities under OHS legislation of employees, including supervisors and contractors
  • standard industry controls for a range of hazards
  • state/territory and commonwealth OHS legislation (acts, regulations, codes of practice, associated standards&guidance material) including prescriptive and performance approaches and links to other relevant legislation such as industrial relations, equal employment opportunity, workers compensation, rehabilitation
  • structure and forms of legislation including regulations, codes of practice, associated standards and guidance material.

Evidence Guide


The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the following is essential:

  • investigation of OHS incidents in a systematic manner
  • an initial assessment of the situation and the establishment of processes
  • recommendations made for prevention
  • dissemination of relevant information and data
  • knowledge principles and practices of continuity and validity of evidence retention for potential legal action.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure:

  • access to workplace documents and situation case studies and, where possible, to situations
  • access to office equipment and resources
  • access to other personnel involved in investigations.

Method of assessment 

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • analysis of responses to case studies and scenarios
  • assessment of written reports on incidents
  • demonstration of techniques used to conduct OHS incident investigations
  • direct questioning combined with review of portfolios of evidence and third party reports of on-the-job performance by the candidate
  • observation of performance in role plays
  • observation of presentations
  • oral or written questioning to assess knowledge of requirements for reporting under OHS and other relevant legislation including notification and reporting of incidents
  • review of authenticated documents from the workplace or training environment
  • evaluation of area checks after an incident
  • scoping of the investigation
  • recording of documentary evidence
  • researchof causative event/s.

Guidance information for assessment 

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • other OHS units.

Range Statement


The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Relevant government agencies  may include:

  • environment protection agencies
  • OHS authorities
  • police and other emergency services

Key persons within the organisation  may include:

  • employee assistance personnel
  • external specialist personnel and contractors
  • OHS specialists within organisation
  • organisational legal advisor
  • personnel involved in incident/situation
  • senior management
  • supervisors
  • union or staff association representatives
  • workgroup members

Complexity  may include:

  • administrative implications
  • conflict of interest issues
  • existence of secondary hazards
  • international conventions
  • involvement of external agencies
  • language competencies of parties involved
  • legal implications arising from the incident or post incident related matters
  • level of public or political interest
  • number of other parties, including sub-contractors
  • seriousness of injury or other outcomes
  • technical implications

Stakeholders and interested parties  may include:

  • community
  • coroner
  • designers
  • employees and family members
  • employers
  • government agencies, including OHS and emergency services agencies
  • importers
  • installers
  • insurance companies
  • managers
  • manufacturers
  • media
  • organisation's board or advisory council
  • persons in control of workplaces
  • politicians
  • sub-contractors
  • suppliers and distributors
  • unions
  • workgroup members and people who may be exposed to similar situations

Investigation team  should include persons:

  • familiar with the task and the work environment
  • in authority in organisation such as company/organisational legal advisor and technical experts as required
  • in OHS representative role
  • responsible for performance standards within the work environment (e.g. supervisor)
  • with OHS expertise

Barriers to investigation  may include:

  • availability of research data and analysis or testing equipment
  • availability of technical design information and data relevant to the investigation
  • changes to incident scene
  • condition of witnesses
  • cultural issues
  • economic implications
  • geographical location and/or accessibility
  • lack of records
  • language
  • legal restrictions or limitations (temporary, short-term or long-term)
  • length of time from when incident occurred/first identified
  • limited resources available
  • management and employee attitude including desire to protect self and others
  • political and community stakeholder sensitivity
  • time limits imposed

Conceptual basis for the analysis  should:

  • emphasise analysis of the systems in place at the time of the incident
  • encourage an open minded, objective approach
  • focus on the 'why' and 'how' rather than the 'what'
  • not focus on individual behaviour or fault

Time line of events  may include:

  • events which extend back in time as far as required and not just focus on immediate events

Causative events  may include:

  • key events that together resulted in the particular outcome/s of injury or damage

Conditions  may include:

  • permanent situation such as:
  • type of equipment
  • work practice
  • design of work environment

Circumstance  may include:

  • short-term situation that is relatively unusual, such as:
  • storm
  • key person absence

Target audience  may include:

  • board of management
  • external agencies
  • OHS committee
  • police or coroner
  • senior managers

Unit Sector(s)

Unit sector 

Competency field

Competency field 

Regulation, Licensing and Risk - Occupational Health and Safety

Co-requisite units

Co-requisite units 

Training component details
The following details are displayed for each different NRT:-

Training packages

- Training package details
- Training package components


- Qualification details
- Qualification components

Accredited courses

- Accredited course details


- Module details

Units of competency

- Units of competency details
- Unit components

Skill sets

- Skill set details
- Skill set components

Click on the Export link to export the NRT information to MS Word or PDF.

Click on the Manage notification link to create or change a notification for this NRT.

When selecting the Display history check box a set of tables will appear displaying a log of historical values describing what has changed and when over time.

If you have access to make changes to an NRT, click on the Edit link on the upper right hand side of the summary box.