More Root Causes Doesn’t Make You Smarter

20 July 2024

As the HSE Manager of a contracting company, I am responsible for the performance of HSE Leads on multiple projects. The other day, an incident occurred resulting in an employee being injured. The specifics of the injury are not important, suffice to say the cause of the injury was nothing complicated and pretty straight forward. The HSE Lead for the Project sent me the incident investigation report and I was not surprised to see that the root cause section was JAM PACKED. No kidding, there were about 7 root causes, everything ranging from lack of supervision, not using appropriate PPE, method statement being poorly written, not following the risk assessment and many many more… The reason I was NOT surprised is because these types of reports find their way to me far too often!

The HSE Lead was expecting a pat on the back for such a comprehensive and detailed report. I knew that the list of root causes were exaggerated. A lot of the times this is done to be seen as competent (fat report = an HSE person who knows what they are talking about). What HSE people fail to realize is that the more failures that are highlighted in an investigation report, the worse it looks for them. It is indicative of a site that is out of control. After reviewing the report, I looked up at the HSE Lead and said “So all this has been happening right under your nose? Why wasn’t any of this highlighted before the incident?” And that’s when he realized that he… messed up.

Come on peeps, stop writing reports trying to impress people. Just because you throw around a couple of technical words does not make you competent. Remember that investigation findings that are unfounded can get innocent people in trouble, or it can make you seem incompetent.

AnonymousHSE is an HSE professional with multiple years of experience managing HSE teams. He has worked in multiple industries, most notably in the Oil & Gas Industry and Contracting. AnonymousHSE says the things everyone is thinking. His specialty is addressing the elephant in the room. He choses to remain anonymous as the HSE community is not ready to hear a lot of the things he has to say.

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