Transforming incidents into positive learning

Past mistakes always lay down the paradigms of a “Safe Work Ethic” for any individual, organization or institution. Organizations give a lot of importance to learning from such incidents and adopt many different ways for educating their employees. Such training-cum-learning programs form an important part of the safety ecosystem in an organization. Different organizations approach such learning programs differently. Some are content in simply sharing the information via a documented version of the incident that is shared across the organization (either digitally or through a printed version). Others, arrange for sharing of such information through classroom sessions and workshops. A few organizations also video-shoot a dramatized, re-enacted incident and use the video for such learning programs.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”

– John Powell

Traditionally, regular workshops are held, where, a qualified safety professional shares data that is gathered from incidents, with employees/work-force. Such data contains information like the investigation report, incident chronology, hazards identified, corrective measures etc. A classroom session ensues with the presenter explaining various facets of an incident in detail. He/she uses images, statistics, pictures and PPT slides for presenting the case. Typically, the audience receives this information and either makes notes or tries to absorb it, in the best manner possible. Question and answer sessions follow, thereby, adding cohesiveness to the session.

Traditional methods, however, have been efficient only up to a certain extent. Explanation via presentations can certainly create awareness but the challenge of changing human behavior for the better, may still exist. Workmen may not be able to completely recall critical points from an incident that could save them from ignominy of a repeat. Trainers face huge challenges before them when presenting or explaining key points from an incident. Sometimes, the intricacies are microscopic and therefore, very difficult to be presented or explained.

Re-enacting an incident by actors, has its own set of challenges. The incident in itself, cannot be completely re-enacted, in case injuries/medical cases are involved. In such cases, organizations resort to emotionally connect with audiences using humor, tragedy, drama, family and/or others for creating an impact. The movies, however, can be played at any place and any time, on any broadcasting screen. Such movies have the potential to change human behavior, when shown uniformly and consistently over a period of time. For making such movies, organizations have to find the right combination of competent actors, movie makers and EHS professionals to ensure the criticalities are highlighted.

A very effective method of learning from incidents, is to reconstruct them by way of animation. There are several different animation technologies and methods available that have the ability to replicate an incident accurately. Animated incidents can be replicated to the exact graphical detail. Even intricate details (like internal parts of a machine) can be clearly broadcasted using animation movies. If an incident can be narrated in the form of a story, it tends to stay with human mind for a longer time. When actual details of any incident (like backgrounds, climatic conditions, vehicles, work environments, machinery etc.) are shown, a particular person is likely to recall the lessons learnt, easily and naturally. Motion graphics and animated movies have a high percentage of being retained by the human brain as the incident is enacted exactly in the manner that it happens. Additionally, key points (corrective measures) can be easily highlighted and emphasized, using clever methods, for higher retention. If the EHS team and the technical (animation) team can synchronize together, the resulting movie can add significant value to the training-cum-learning program. Moreover, such animated movies don’t need a huge amount of time to develop.


There are various ways in which crucial lessons can be learnt from past incidents. It depends entirely on organizations or institutions to make the best use of available technologies that can support such learning programs. However, there is no denying that such incidents become a fundamental platform for learning and therefore, ensuring that they never happen again.

We wish you all a Safe Work Ethic and Incident-free environment.

ASK-EHS serves its patrons by providing EHS related services like incident investigation & report preparation, incident management software and incident reconstruction into 3D animation movies.


1 thought on “Transforming incidents into positive learning”

  1. Ethic is very helpful for those who are on the professional
    platform of HSE.

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