Measuring the quality of learning from incidents processes in the workplace

Lukic, D; Littlejohn, Allison and Margaryan, A (2013). Measuring the quality of learning from incidents processes in the workplace. In: RWL8 - 8th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning 2013: "The Visible and Invisible in Work and Learning", 19-21 Jun 2013, Stirling, UK.


Effective learning is essential for a safe workplace. Through learning from incidents (LFI), knowledge is accumulated and embedded within the work environment in ways that can prevent future incidents, by people reflecting on what has happened and deriving lessons learned to prevent future incidents. Companies have invested large sums of money to develop approaches to LFI. However, each approach is not equally effective. The impact of LFI depends on how each initiative is implemented within a specific context in an organisation. In order to improve their LFI processes organisations need an instrument that would enable them to review the state of their LFI processes in order to improve them.

Therefore, this paper reports on the development and testing of an instrument (LFI Quality Questionnaire) that can be used to measures employees’ perceptions on and experiences of learning from incidents. By so doing, learning specialists, frontline managers and supervisors will have evidence on which to base improvements to their local work environment. This is important in ensuring learning from incident initiatives are as effective as possible. Two perspectives are critical when planning LFI in organisations: firstly, which activities are undertaken in order to instantiate learning from incidents in an industrial site and, secondly, if important factors of effective LFI are considered in the process. In order to address these two perspectives, two models developed through previous research are used: The LFI Cycle model and the LFI Framework.

The LFI Cycle can be utilised to identify activities conducted at the site as part of LFI. The model outlines the discreet phases of an incident lifecycle: reporting, investigation, developing learning points, dissemination, contextualising and implementing actions. The model can be used to capture and reflect on the learning activities facilitated at a site during each phase, allowing identification of potential learning gaps.

The LFI Framework comprises five factors critical to effective learning from incidents: type of problem, learning participants, learning process, type of knowledge and formality of learning. These factors give an indication of the quality of learning from incidents as instantiated across an industrial site.

The LFI Quality Questionnaire is based on the LFI Cycle model and the LFI Framework and can be used to interrogate and surface employees’ experiences of critical areas of learning from incidents, such as incident analysis, or the distribution of outcomes and recommendations to employees to reduce incidents. The questionnaire is being validated within a multinational, energy sector company and the paper will report on the instrument development and validation. The paper will conclude with remarks regarding the challenges of adapting the instrument for pragmatic use across the industry.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 51356
  • Item Type
  • Conference or Workshop Item
  • Keywords
  • Learning From Incidents; Organisational learning; Health and Safety; Quality of Learning From Incidents
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Depositing User
  • Allison Littlejohn