What is ICAM: 3 benefits of ICAM incident investigation

workplace safety

What is ICAM: 3 benefits of ICAM incident investigation

The ICAM incident investigation technique is increasingly preferred by heavy industries across Australia and internationally. Find out how this root-cause focused investigative strategy can enhance your organisation’s overall safety management.

What is ICAM?

ICAM stands for Incident Cause Analysis Method, an industrial safety analysis process designed to determine the root causes of an incident and organise the investigation findings in a logical, structured way. The ICAM analysis tool provides clarity on both why the incident happened and on which factors contributed to the incident at an organisational level.

ICAM definiton

What makes the ICAM incident investigation method different?

Traditionally, incident investigation has centred on acts of human error, or things which workers did or didn’t do which led to an incident, whether intentional or unintentional. This is referred to as the “person model”. In the past, this has led to only a superficial understanding of an incident as it wouldn’t take into consideration any underlying factors which could impact those actions or inactions, nor the context under which the incident happened. Traditional incident investigation fails to take into account the underlying factors which may be present in the system and could lead to future occurrences of the same issue.

That’s where ICAM is different.

ICAM operates as a full-spectrum safety investigation analysis method, aiming to systemically investigate every aspect of a safety incident. It identifies both the traditional factors of the person model AND takes into account broader failings of the organisation in areas such as training, management, culture, communication, equipment and procedures.

ICAM takes into account best practices for risk management and human factors to identify the root causes of an incident and implement holistic remedial actions to prevent recurrences.

Which industries use the ICAM investigation method?

ICAM has been used throughout Australia to investigate incidents across a range of sectors including mining, aviation, roads, petroleum and rail and has been taken up across the globe in countries such as Canada, Chile, Papua New Guinea, USA, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan. It has proven to be cross-culturally effective in a range of disciplines and will likely see further uptake across new industries and locations.


3 Benefits of ICAM incident investigation

Incident investigation is crucial to identifying risk factors and minimising the chance of future incidents occurring. While there are many incident assessment methods, ICAM, which was developed in Australia by Gerry Gibb, drawing on the findings of Professor James Reason, is increasingly adopted by industries from aviation to mining and heavy industries. So, what are the benefits of ICAM?

#1. Fights inconsistencies

Companies often struggle to maintain a consistent, structured incident report process. Without a set, disciplined process, vital information can slip through the cracks and gathering meaningful data or identifying trends can be all but impossible.

#2. Scalable investigations

ICAM provides a consistent approach with repeatable results, it was intentionally developed to combat inconsistencies in incident investigation. It combats issues with traditional incident reporting such as onerous or time-consuming processes which are unsuitable for smaller incidents, or conversely, reporting being too simplistic to handle complex investigations. ICAM has been specifically developed to be scalable to the scope of the incident and can be applied to both major and minor occurrences.

#3. Identifies and eliminates root causes

The ICAM method goes beyond simply identifying WHAT went wrong it identifies WHY it went wrong by establishing an incident’s root causes. For instance, an employee may have fallen into a pit because there was no fencing or warning signs – the lack of signage could easily be perceived as the cause of the incident, but a deeper analysis using ICAM may find that there was no fencing or safety signs erected because a proper risk assessment wasn’t undertaken.

It’s a matter of human factor, not just human error. A human error may be forgetting to add a lockout tag to a power switch. The human factor may be insufficient safety training or unawareness of the site’s requirements.

ICAM investigation helps to eliminate the root causes of incidents and minimise the chance of recurrence.

Where does ICAM fit in your overall safety management strategy?

A safety management strategy should incorporate preventative measures with ongoing improvement. An up to date ISO 45001 safety management system is key to recording, conducting and implementing ICAM incident investigations and can help keep track of any incidents while minimising the chance of recurrence and taking away learnings which can apply to other areas of the organisation.

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