Role and function
The safety investigation is conducted by the Safety Investigation Authority (SIA). The safety investigation examines the course of events related to the accident or incident, their causes and consequences, and the search and rescue actions as well as the actions taken by the authorities. The investigation specifically examines whether safety had adequately been taken into consideration in the activity leading up to the accident and in the planning, manufacture, construction and use of the equipment and structures that caused the accident or incident or at which the accident or incident was directed. The investigation also examines whether the management, supervision and inspection activity had been appropriately arranged and managed. If necessary, the investigation also examines possible defects in the provisions and orders regarding safety and the authorities. The goal of the investigation is to discover factors and background causes contributing to the accident or incident in addition to its immediate cause, which may be found in e.g. the organisation, the instructions or the working methods.
When making the decision on whether to start the safety investigation, the seriousness of the incident and the probability that it will recur is taken into account. An incident or hazard with only minor consequences should be investigated if it caused a danger to several people and it is judged that the investigation will generate information that is significant in improving general safety and preventing accidents. The Safety Investigation Authority does not normally investigate incidents that have been caused deliberately or occur as a result of an offence.
The end result of the safety investigation is an investigation report. At the end of the report, there are safety recommendations addressed to the appropriate authorities and other agencies. The safety recommendations summarise the views of the investigators on how similar accidents and incidents can be avoided in the future. The Safety Investigation Authority monitors that the recommendations are implemented. The purpose of the safety investigation is to promote general safety, prevent further accidents and incidents, and prevent losses caused by the accidents.
Safety investigations are not conducted to allocate legal liability. Other authorities and agencies are responsible for that task.
The Safety Investigation Act (525/2011) defines the task and the mandate of the Safety Investigation Authority. The Safety Investigation Act of Finland provides for the types of accidents and incidents investigated by the Safety Investigation Authority and how they are investigated.
The task of the Safety Investigation Authority is to investigate all major accidents and serious incidents regardless of their type, as well as aviation, rail traffic and maritime traffic accidents and incidents.
The Safety Investigation Authority
• Ensures the general organisation, planning, guidance, provision of information, and supervision of the safety investigation
• Trains persons suitable to be investigators
• Maintains the readiness to quickly initiate an investigation
• Attends to international cooperation connected with the safety investigation field
• Issues safety recommendations and monitors their implementation