The continued propagation of safety investigations

By Craig Cattell - May 09, 2023

Safety, as opposed to criminal investigations, has seen a steady expansion into new modes in recent years. In the UK, the forerunner of safety investigations could be considered the aviation sector, which has been investigating accidents in some form since around 1915.

The aviation sector is now expanding its scope looking towards the growing space industry’s opportunities as it continually matures. As industries identify the numerous benefits of carrying out non-punitive investigations into systemic factors these continue to be taken up by many other industries.

Cranfield has been closely involved with this expansion building on its worldwide reputation for accident investigation training. In the field of health there have been huge strides in investigative capability and approach, which feeds into the goal of an improved patient and family experience. Cranfield is proud to have been part of this journey in collaboration with the Baby Lifeline charity and have to date trained around 400 healthcare investigators in this required skill set to carry out an effective safety investigation.

"It’s been fantastic to see how this course has gone from strength to strength with consistent good feedback from delegates. It’s also heart-warming to hear from past delegates about the positive impact the course has had on helping their organisations improve the way they review and learn from adverse events." – James Titcombe, Baby Lifeline

Cranfield have also developed similar courses for the construction industry, which have been successfully run for this sector. Whilst this field is no stranger to accident investigation and HSE scrutiny, the field of safety investigation differs in as much as the focus shifts away from blame and into systemic learning. The course has run for both seasoned investigators to hone their skills, and fledging investigators who may not have carried out investigations in the past.

The next field the UK and Cranfield looks to expand into is road safety investigations. As with construction, this area is no stranger to investigations carried out at the scene, usually by the police. Working closely with the team setting up the future investigative agency to understand their aspirations and mandate; we will continue to share our pan-mode investigative knowledge. Cranfield generates this from working closely with a multitude of civil and military investigative sectors who all bring their own vast experience and best practices for the continued development of our investigation courses. These courses also benefit from our research activities in the safety and investigation field which continues to expand the knowledge base of safety investigations.

As investigative science moves into these new sectors the knowledge base will continue to grow. Newcomers will benefit from the experience of the forerunners, and the forerunners will benefit from the unique approaches employed by other sectors. This will drive forward novel approaches and increase safety across all areas of society.

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