it is the result of the mishap. The cause of a
mishap is usually discovered during an investiga-
tion of an injury or damage.
Before continuing, lets define some of the
terms with which you as an investigator need to
Mishap Any unplanned or unexpected event
causing material loss or damage or causing
personnel injury or death; or an occurrence that,
except for proximity or timely action, would have
resulted in damage or injury.
Mishap investigation A check of the facts
surrounding the causes of a mishap; conducted
by the command involved using the procedures
outlined in OPNAVINST 5102.1C.
JAG Manual investigation A check that
provides official, factual documentation of all
matters pertaining to a mishap, which can be used
for legal or administrative action.
Naval Safety Center investigation An inde-
pendent check conducted based on the guidelines
of a mishap investigation. It is in addition to,
but not a substitution for, either a JAG Manual
investigation or the mishap investigation conducted
by the local command.
Protection of information The requirement
that prevents individuals who are conducting a
separate mishap investigation from divulging
information obtained or from providing an
opinion based on that information to any other
fact-finding body. The limitations on the use of
statistical mishap reports. The prevention of any
part of Personnel Injury/Death/Occupational
Illness Report (OPNAV Form 5102/1) or Material
(Property) Damage Mishap Report (OPNAV
Form 5102/2) being used in any other investiga-
tion. Protection of information is based on
Your investigation should answer the questions
of What? Where? When? How? and Why? Your
investigative procedures should be geared toward
these questions as well.
You should begin your investigation as soon
as possible after the mishap. The sooner you
begin, the better the investigation will be.
Witnesses will be present. More accurate facts can
be gathered because of the possibility that the
damage or materials should be in the same relative
position as when the mishap occurred.
You will have very little time to plan your
investigation. You should be ready to proceed
with the collection of facts and circumstances with
little prior notification.
Real evidence, such as photographs, records,
operating logs, and damaged equipment or
material, can be shared by the investigative bodies.
Items that fail to meet military or manufacturers
standards should be marked for investigation by
the appropriate technical authority.
Photographs can provide invaluable evidence.
They should be clear and provide enough detail
to actually depict the situation. Color photographs
should be used if possible, but black and white
will suffice. Polaroid instant prints present an
accurate representation of the scene. However,
Polaroid type prints are difficult to reproduce or
enlarge. You should take the photographs from
at least two different angles and use a ruler in the
photographs to show exact dimensions.
Sketches may be used instead of or in
conjunction with photographs. Sketches should
be drawn to scale. Use graph paper if it is
Pieces of equipment or material should be
carefully handled to ensure physical evidence is
not destroyed. Each item should be tagged with
a full descriptive relationship to the accident. A
photograph or sketch should be included with
items sent out for laboratory testing to show the
as found location or condition.
Verbatim copies of operating logs, records,
directives, and so forth, should be made. If
possible, make a photocopy or photograph. Make
notations of obvious erasures and mark-overs,
and make sure the notations appear in the photo-
copy or photograph.
Since testimony in a safety investigation is
unsworn, all verbal information must be fully
evaluated. You should always remember that this
information is to be used for the single purpose