On 28 January 2010, three men walked away from the helicopter that crashed in Northern New South Wales on the lip of a 1,000 metre cliff. The Australian media covered it fairly extensively. What is curious about this air crash is that there is no government investigation into the possible cause of the crash.
OHS professionals advocate the inclusion of “near misses” in any investigation program so such a lack of interest seems peculiar.
One media report said that both the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) will not be investigating. (The company that owned the helicopter is in Queensland).
SafetyAtWorkBlog contacted CASA to determine the rationale behind the decision. They said that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) would be handling this.
WHSQ said that the incident is outside of their jurisdiction so they cannot investigate the incident. The same reason was given by WorkCover NSW.
ATSB said that they will not be investigating the incident because it is a very low priority incident. A spokesperson for the ATSB said that investigation criteria includes whether the incident led to any fatalities, whether the investigation would have any safety lessons. They focus mostly on public transport events and that there are many investigations calling on their limited resources for which they need to prioritise.
All organisations have limited resources and all do the best they can with them but it seems odd that no government safety regulator will be investigating this “near miss”
SafetyAtWorkBlog contacted the owners of the crashed helicopter, Chopperline, Their public relations consultant stated that an internal investigation will be undertaken. As any employer, whatever the industry, has responsibility for the safety of their workers, passengers or crew, employers should be involved in incident investigations but whether they should be alone in this process seems odd.
It would be expected that if the lead agency, ATSB, is not involved in the investigation, the findings of the company’s own investigation would be supplied to the regulator but whether this is an obligation, or simply a courtesy, is unclear.
If the incident had occurred in any other workplace, would leaving a near miss investigation to the employer be acceptable?