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SAW-IT is the Self Administered Interview for Workplace Incidents

The Self-Administered Witness Interview Tool (SAW-IT) is a version of the original self-administered interview tool that has been developed for use in health and safety investigations to obtain high quality evidence quickly, efficiently, and in a standardised manner.

This information can then be used to facilitate investigations and collate information for use in summary reports, root cause analysis and feedback sessions. Use of the SAW-IT should produce detailed accounts that inform the management of future events and organisational policy with respect to health and safety.

Studies reveal a 31% increase in correct details at a consistent accuracy rate, compared to a typical industry witness report

Key benefits of the SAW-IT

Like the SAI, the SAW-IT is a user-friendly recall tool, developed with the primary function of facilitating the remembering and reporting of detailed eyewitness memories for an incident, in a quick and efficient manner.

It takes the form of a standardized protocol of clear instructions and questions that enable individuals to provide their own statement, without the need for an investigator to be present.

In the context of health and safety investigations, the SAW-IT offers the following benefits:

  • Improved quality of data collected through the use of a best-practice evidence-based investigative interviewing protocol to facilitate retrieval and to enhance both quantity and quality of information reported.
  • Standardisation across investigations in the collection and collation of occupational accident/incident statements.
  • Increased speed and efficiency of collecting information.
  • Improved quality of information obtained that has the potential to lead to faster, and more reliable, classification of incidents.
  • Reduction of costs associated with current methods of obtaining information associated with resources such as travel costs, time spent investigating a case, etc.
  • Reduced workloads of Health and Safety Advisors relating to obtaining initial information about reported accidents and incidents.
  • Reliable classification of incidents, based upon best-evidence, can subsequently be used in root cause analysis to enhance the reliability of collated information and causation models.
  • Reliable collated information and causation models can subsequently generate targeted responses (e.g., identifying specific training needs, etc.).

Obtaining detailed information in health and safety investigations – a challenge

Thorough accident and incident investigation is the cornerstone of an effective and efficient occupational health and safety program.

Effective post-incident investigation is fundamental to identifying and mitigating workplace factors likely to result in accidents and incidents. As such, recording accurate accident/incident data, including accounts from those involved, is vital for
improvement in an organisation’s health and safety culture – and associated cost effectiveness.

To date, there is no single standardised witness statement form in use for incident investigations. Instead, organisations have tended to develop their own forms, many of which lack an informed theoretical background or framework, particularly with respect to the cognitive and memory components of witness reporting. Unsurprisingly, research suggests that current methods of obtaining evidence in a health and safety investigation frequently produce insufficient information to provide a complete picture of the conditions under which the accidents/incidents have taken place.

Health and safety investigations stand to benefit from a standardised tool, such as the SAW-IT, tailored for the investigation of accidents and workplace incidents for a number of reasons. First, a significant problem for many investigations is the delay incurred between employees witnessing or being involved in an accident or incident, and then providing a statement. This can occur because the incident occurs in a remote field site or location and there will be an inevitable delay before an investigator can research the scene.

The quality of information obtained about an event is time-critical, not only because memory is prone to rapid decay but also because memory is fallible, and vulnerable to the influence of post-event information. Both of these factors to compromise recall completeness and accuracy – but can be mitigated when witnesses provide early and detailed initial accounts.

Second, the quality of information obtained is also dependent on the skills and training of the investigator. Put simply, interviews comprising poorly-phrased questions and ill-informed interview tactics produce limited information with a high probability of error. In contrast, the psychological literature has produced ‘best practice’ interview guidelines that have been empirically proven to enhance the amount of accurate information reported by interviews.

The SAW-IT™ uses both cognitive theory and good questioning protocol to promote detailed and accurate reports. Recent outcomes of scientific research into the efficacy of the SAW-IT shows that when compared to a typical industry witness report form, the SAW-IT elicited 31% more correct details at a consistent accuracy rate (proportion of accurate details to all details reported). This increase of reporting correct details was seen across all content categories explored, i.e., details about the environment, the people, and equipment. The information retrieved yielded 35% more fine grained details (i.e., highly detailed).

MacLean, C. L. (2019). The Self-Administered Witness Interview Tool (SAW-IT): Enhancing witness recall of workplace incidents. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 33, 1212-1223. DOI: 10.1002/acp.3568

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