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Investigations

A work health and safety investigation is a search for information about an incident that uses evidence to establish:

  • what occurred
  • how it occurred
  • who, if anyone, is responsible
  • whether it could or should have been prevented.

An investigation involves collecting a range of evidence, including:

  • witness statements
  • photographs
  • equipment in use
  • samples
  • objects found at the scene
  • documentary evidence such as safe operating procedures and training records.

An investigation may also involve the engagement of experts to examine evidence and provide reports.

Possible investigation outcomes include:

  • verbal direction where the hazard can be controlled while the inspector is present
  • issuing an Improvement Notice/s
  • issuing a Prohibition Notice/s
  • issuing an Infringement Notice/s
  • entering an enforceable undertaking
  • mounting a prosecution.

South Australia Police

The South Australia Police attend all workplaces fatalities to:

  • inquire as necessary into the cause of death on behalf of the Coroner, and prepare a full report for the Coroner
  • notify the next of kin
  • arrange formal identification of the deceased
  • investigate whether any criminal offences were committed.

SafeWork SA and South Australia Police work on joint investigations where possible. In some circumstances joint investigations are not possible and separate enquiries will be made. Sometimes it is important for South Australian Police and SafeWork SA to interview witnesses separately because the information required is different. Confidentiality provisions bind each agency and sometimes it is not appropriate or possible to share information.

State Coroner

The State Coroner is an appointed judicial officer whose duties are conducted in accordance with the Coroners Act 2003. The Coroner:

  • ensures investigations and inquests into deaths, fires, accidents and the disappearance of missing persons are properly managed
  • makes 'findings' about the cause of death in certain cases
  • decides if it is necessary to hold an inquest into the death or disappearance of a person, a fire or an accident
  • conducts inquests to determine the cause or circumstances of a death, disappearance, fire or accident.