Simple Investigation Method Analysis

The Simple Investigation Method Analysis or abbreviated SIM Analysis, is primarily used as a reactive tool, applied to investigate the cause of an incident. The SIM Analysis model can be seen as a risk-orientated evolvement of the five why technique, which is used in a variety of contexts. 

In addition to the classic investigative purpose of the analyses, it can furthermore be seen applied in hazard identification processes as a preliminary tool. The method functions as a problem-solving technique, which processes by asking "why" repeatedly to identify the root cause of a hazard.  

It is a simple but powerful approach commonly used in various fields, including manufacturing, engineering, and business. The goal is to find the underlying cause and barrier-fails of an issue rather than addressing only its symptoms. The process typically involves asking "why" five times, though it might take more or fewer iterations depending on the situation.  

The process, step by step:

  1. Define the incident statement: 

Start by clearly defining the problem or issue that needs to be addressed. Be specific about what went wrong or what you seek to investigate. Your ability to be specific in your incident statement has a direct influence on the tangibility of your solution. 

  1. Begin the first “why” iteration: 

Start by analyzing why your incident statement occurred, and then proceed to define/analyze the barriers which should or could have prevented the incident statement, if they had been effective/ present. Again, it is important to be specific regarding both the barriers and barrier-failures. Creating the most generic SIM Analysis possible is not the goal, the goal is to identify the origin of the incident. 

  1. Precede with the second “why” iteration: 

Now you take the answer from the first iteration and repeat it with the new why statement. This process is repeated to dig deeper into the cause-and-effect relationships. The goal is to uncover the underlying factors that contributed to the problem. 

  1. Repeat the Process: 

Continue with a new iteration for each subsequent answer, typically for a total of five times. Each iteration should probe deeper into the issues until you have identified the root cause. 

  1. Identify the root hazard: 

Once the root cause is identified, you can begin to develop and implement mitigating measures to address the underlying hazard. By addressing the root cause, the likelihood of recurrence is reduced.  

Be aware that there is not usually only one root hazard, but multiple hazards which all contribute to our incident. By repeating this tool with different incident statements or different subsequent answers, you improve your chance of uncovering as many root hazards as possible. 

This process in the SIM Analysis can be seen illustrated below. 

About the Author

Rasmus Kjær

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