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The authors would welcome comments. See Koning-Peters Thesis topic posted at AIPRE on the moderated Private Forum accessible to all registered participants.
Also see posted comments previously submitted to authors
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The Investigator In Charge:Role or Profession
by G. Th. Koning and M.L.M.M. Peters
A current discussion within multi-modal Boards concerns the qualifications of the person who is responsible for the organisation, conduct and control of an investigation. In the field of accident investigation this person is called the investigator-in-charge, abbreviated to IIC. As accident investigation has been growing from technical issues to include complex systems in society, the tasks of an IIC are not comparable with the early days of investigation.
In a multi-modal Board, management has the responsibility to provide the Board with investigation results obtained with state-of-the-art tools. To satisfy the Board, and in fact society, with accident investigation reports, management is facilitating the work of IICs. These IICs are preferably tasked to investigations in any domain, as this will enhance the operational readiness of the Board.
The central question of our research is to identify if the IIC is playing a focal role 1 or performing a profession2 in accident investigation. For this research several methodologies were used; experience diaries, semi-structured interviews, mind mapping exercises, research of literature and a focus group meeting. The converging results of the respective methods were combined, which resulted in four high level themes for IICs:
It should be noted that the investigative tasks vary during the lifecycle of the investigation, making different demands on the IIC and the team. The scale of investigations also needs to be considered. In small scale investigations (with a team that does not include more than three members) the IIC needs to be a domain expert who has knowledge of and experience with the investigation life cycle. In the case of large scale investigations the focus on the required investigation skills of an IIC is more on controlling, conducting and organising different aspects, irrespective of the phase of the investigation cycle. Domain knowledge of the IIC is less required.
In our research it became clear that the IIC presently plays a focal role in the accident investigation. Accidents will be more and more complex due to the interconnection of systems. These developments have an impact on the requirements of the IIC. The IICs will be charged with complex accident investigations.
According to our opinion the approach to complex system accident investigation indicates that the function of IIC is not just a focal role to be fulfilled but is developing into a profession. Within the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) so far the function of IIC has been considered more as a role instead of a profession. By defining it as a profession people can grow to become managers for complex investigations if they are given the right challenges, study and mastery of specialized knowledge, extensive training and development into specialised skills dedicated to professional accident investigation.
This thesis ends with five recommendations for the international community of multimodal Boards, organised in the International Transport Safety Association (ITSA) and its individual member, the DSB:
The contents of this thesis reflect our thoughts and although similarities might arise between the DSB and this thesis they do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Board or the individual members.