Introduction to this document

Environmental incident - witness statement

Often staff or others will actually see an incident take place, so they may be able to give information which could prove vital. The best way of getting hold of this is through a formal interview.

What happened?

If there’s a serious incident on your site, the first question you’re likely to ask is: “what happened?” Often this information is relayed through colleagues in an informal manner and vital facts are lost. To help you find out exactly what occurred, why not use our Witness Statement document?

Formal interview

The first stage in this process is to conduct formal interviews with any witnesses. Tip. Try to conduct these interviews before the end of the shift. This will ensure that facts aren’t forgotten and, more importantly, not changed or embellished.

Why bother?

There’s a common misconception that, following a serious incident, inspectors turn up with the single aim of taking enforcement action. Although this is one reason, they are also there to make sure that you’re investigating the incident and taking steps to prevent another one. Note. An inspector may ask for staff interviews, which you are allowed to attend. If this happens, use our document to record what was said.

Make your intentions clear

When staff are asked questions in a formal manner they can often become defensive. This happens for a number of reasons. They may have a misguided sense of loyalty to their colleagues, or they might feel that their answers could get them into trouble. Tip 1. Make it clear to whoever you’re interviewing that your intentions are to find out what happened and to identify how you can prevent a further occurrence, not for gathering evidence to take disciplinary action etc. Tip 2. You only want to know what they actually saw, not what they thought they saw, or even what a colleague told them they witnessed.

Put it all together

Once you have completed all of the interviews, you should look for trends in the statements. Tip. The most reliable pieces of information are likely to be those mentioned by more than one member of staff. But if one person states something completely different to their colleagues, re-interview them and ask them if they are sure about their response. Or simply discount it as unreliable.