WorkSafeBC may investigate workplace incidents that resulted in a death or an injury or had the potential to cause serious injury. Investigations help us determine why an incident happened, gather information about industry trends, and provide recommendations to prevent future incidents.
After a serious safety incident is reported to WorkSafeBC, one or more of our officers may come to your worksite to conduct an investigation, possibly within hours.
We investigate incidents to determine their cause and to ensure compliance with the Workers Compensation Act. The findings of the investigation may result in orders or administrative penalties.
Employers, workers, and other workplace parties have a legal duty to cooperate and do everything reasonably possible to help WorkSafeBC conduct its investigation. This includes:
- Allowing the team to fully access the worksite
- Answering all of the team's questions
- Producing documents and records at the team's request
What to expect during an investigation
Generally, in a WorkSafeBC investigation, officers:
- Secure and examine the incident site, including any equipment involved
- Take notes and photos
- Interview workers, managers, and witnesses
- Collect relevant documents, such as equipment operating manuals, written procedures, and training records
- Conduct tests on materials or equipment
- Seize materials, equipment, or documents as necessary
An investigation may involve others besides WorkSafeBC investigation officers, such as engineers, lawyers, human factors specialists, hygienists, and other subject matter experts. Other agencies beyond WorkSafeBC may also have jurisdiction or need to investigate a workplace incident. This includes:
- B.C. Coroners Service
- B.C. Safety Authority
- Office of the Fire Commissioner
- Federal agencies, such as the Transportation Safety Board, Transport Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada
- Agencies with jurisdiction over specific activities (e.g., mining)
Depending on the complexity, an investigation can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Some investigations require specialized testing of equipment or a review of thousands of documents. In the interests of workers and their families, we are committed to completing incident investigations as thoroughly and efficiently as possible.