Learning from Incidents and Implementing Action

5th September 2016 - 31st August 2019

This project aims to build on previous work undertaken by members of the Professional and Digital Learning group, to help organisations understand how to become safer workplaces. The previous project contributed to the creation of several tools and instruments that have formed the Energy Institute’s Learning From Incidents Toolkit. One part of this Toolkit was a process model, which, together with a literature review and conversations with various industrial partners, has been used to identify gaps in research to date in understanding how incidents can be used to prompt learning in workplaces. While much attention has been paid to reporting and accident investigation methods, little work has taken place on how information about incidents is distributed around an organisation, and what employees do with that information when they receive it. To this end, the Learning From Incidents and Implementing Actions project aims to answer the following research questions:

  1. How is information about incidents distributed around an organisation?
  2. How do employees engage with information about incidents when they receive it?
  3. What are the indicators that learning has taken place?

The third question in particular is a current issue faced by many companies trying to understand the effectiveness of their processes to learn from incidents.

By exploring these research questions the LFIA project aims to provide companies with insights into the key factors involved in effective information distribution, and the best activities to resource employees actively engaging with information. In addition, the project should produce a taxonomy of potential changes in individuals, teams and the organisation as a whole, that indicate learning has taken place after an incident.

The research methods underpinning the project involve triangulating several sources of data to build a collection of comprehensive case studies of the learning from incidents processes at eight sites, across four companies. The following data sources will be used: social network analysis surveys, to understand information flow within teams and the division of labour within an environment; the Learning From Incidents Questionnaire, to evaluate perceptions of the learning from incidents process within the environment; documents related to specific incidents and processes; and interviews, to obtain a variety of perspectives and examples.

The analytical strategies employed will take advantage of a variety of techniques to draw meaning from single data sources, including thematic analysis, content analysis, various statistical techniques, and multilevel social network analysis. The individual data sources will be brought together using activity theory as a framing structure to gain an understanding of the systems surrounding each site’s learning from incidents process.