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Investigations












Guidelines : Investigations

Investigations

Guidelines

  • Distill and report first the essence of your discovery and your recommendation. Offer a brief recap of what happened, with what results, and why. If cause cannot be determined, say so.
  • Then mention recommendations–or possibly action already taken–to prevent a recurrence.
  • Follow with details about your actual investigation procedures and specific findings.
  • Specify if this is a one-time, infrequent, or recurrent incident. Such information would suggest stronger-than-normal preventive measures, replacement of equipment, or revised procedures.
  • Include, if significant and possible, time and dollar loss.
  • Be careful that details are exact and plentiful. Your report may later be the basis of legal action.
  • Identify subjective statements as such, distinguishing them from investigative facts.
  • Don’t shroud your details in the passive voice in an effort to sound “official.” If you are authorized by your company to investigate, your report will be official. Active voice and a few pronouns (“we decided to replace…” vs. “it was decided to replace…”) will breathe life into your writing.

Example 1: Sample letters for investigations

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: System Disk Crash

On July 8, 19–, we had a physical crash of the read/write heads on our oldest disk drive, the first such occurrence in the four-year life of our system. The cause of the problem was a dirty disk pack and infrequent preventive maintenance on the system.

As a result of the crash, we have a damaged disk pack and have had to replace six of 20 heads on the drive. Time for repair and recovery amounted to 15 hours.

I have contacted Chilton Company for their recommendations to prevent future occurrences and plan to take advantage of their suggestions:

• Preventive maintenance–Bordelon, out of Phoenix, will provide on-site inspection and cleaning of our packs twice a year at a cost of $16 per pack.
• Damaged pack–Marceau Computer Services will revamp our damaged pack at its main laboratory here in the city for a cost of $390. (A new pack, costing approximately $1,600, will be unnecessary.)

We fully expect these new measures will prevent recurrence of the problem.

Example 2: Investigation template

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Shooting Incident at Belford Plant

On August 4, 19–, at 11:36 p.m., someone fired two 6mm rounds from close range outside the Belford plant gate. One of the three security employees was hit in the arm; after hospital treatment of the minor wound, he was released. We notified the Sheriff’s Office and filed a report, but to date there have been no arrests and no shell cases recovered.

Since we know of no such previous incidents, we have made no changes in the site’s security as of this time nor do we know of changes that would prevent recurrence of a similar incident.

An inspection of the gunshot damage revealed one round hit the south end of the compressor building, entering approximately 10″ above and to the right of the door. The second round hit the north end of the same building, deforming the exterior sheeting adjacent to the exhaust stack.

The two other security employees on duty sighted a white car, model undetermined, leaving the vicinity of the front gate immediately after the shots were fired.

Example 3: Workplace investigation letters

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Rodent Control

On March 3, 19–, one of our customers reported a mouse on the showroom floor. An exterminating service was called. They determined the entrance to be a loosely sealed back door in the storeroom. The exterminators also reported there was little evidence to indicate more than one mouse had entered the building.

The back door was resealed on March 4, and an exterminator set up humane traps to eliminate any rodents remaining in the building. The cost for the resealing materials and the exterminator totaled $109.98.

The following recommendations were made by the exterminator to deter further rodents entering the building:

· Don’t leave the back door open for an extended period of time.
· Eat foods which may leave crumbs only in designated eating areas, since these areas are frequently wiped off.
· Do not throw food packaging into the garbage cans near your desks. These packages should also be disposed of in the kitchen only.
· Report any rodents immediately to the manager, who will call the exterminator.

I am certain this problem is under control. To ensure it remains under control, please follow these recommendations. If you have any questions, please call me or come by my office.

Example 4: Investigation memos

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Stolen holiday decorations

On December 16, we discovered our holiday lawn ornaments missing. This not only cost us the actual price of the ornaments, but also the countless hours spent designing and setting up the lawn. The property was stolen only two days before the annual Holiday Lawn Contest. The total estimated loss in property and employee hours was $1,053.65.

The police immediately launched an investigation. They discovered some of our ornaments at a local pawn shop. The owner of the shop indicated he purchased the ornaments from some teenagers who came in early that morning. Further investigation using the tapes from surveillance cameras helped officers to determine the identity of the perpetrators. They were taken into custody.

All of our ornaments were recovered by December 23, 19–, too late to set them up on the lawn for the contest. Since Christmas was so near, we decided to store everything until next year when we will try again for the prize.

For all of you who worked so hard on the display, we applaud your efforts and congratulate you on a job well done.

Example 5: Policy investigation letters

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Recent floor accident

On July 3, 19–, one of our employees, James Arnold, was rushed to the hospital after the mechanical/electrical failure of one robot caused the arm to drop, crushing Mr. Arnold’s arm. Although Mr. Arnold is recovering and reported in stable condition, the doctors indicate he may not be able to use his arm for several months.

We investigated the situation and discovered an electrical short in the wiring caused an error in the movement of the robotic arm. This glitch caused the arm’s full motion to be cut short. Because of a manufacturing error, the arm could not withstand the pressure of the position and fell down onto Mr. Arnold’s arm.

We have contacted the manufacturer who admitted fault and assured us his company’s insurance would cover the full cost of hospital bills for Mr. Arnold as well as the loss in production due to the damaged robot. Finally, the robot will be replaced with the latest design, which has built-in safeguards to prevent such accidents.

Example 6: Investigation reports

Memorandum
TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Investigation of Biting Incident

On February 3, 19–, a four-year-old boy in Mrs. Koffman’s class bit a three-year-old girl on the hand. An open wound did result from the bite and the young girl received five stitches. The young girl’s father requested an investigation into the incident as he felt supervision may have been lacking.

An investigation was conducted which consisted of teacher and teacher assistant interviews and observation of current practices within the preschool classrooms. The investigation yielded the following results: The children were adequately supervised at the time of the incident. However, the biting happened before any intervention could take place.

Observation of the current and previous functioning of teachers indicates that although children are involved in independent play, a teacher or assistant is never more that a few feet away and the teachers are always scanning the room.

Although we feel this incident was unavoidable, we have taken measures to lessen the chance of occurrence.

1. Teachers have been made aware of this incident and were encouraged to keep their eyes open.
2. Three-year olds will have a different center time than the four-year olds.
3. Teachers will promote more vigorously a “use your words” program to help children express their emotions using words instead of physical violence.

We hope these steps and a quicker eye will help make a difference.

Example 7: Investigation documents

Memorandum
TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Recent Food Poisoning Incident

Between June 1 and 3, three customers reported becoming sick after eating at our restaurant. All three reported stomach ailments which caused vomiting and diarrhea. All have reportedly recovered completely. The management opened an investigation into the food served those evenings to determine if our food was indeed the cause of the illness.

Results of the investigation indicated all three customers ordered and consumed the fresh fruit salad. This salad consisted of red grapes which were tested and found to contain an illness-producing bacteria. Not all people are sensitive to this bacteria, which explains the fact that only three people got sick from the grapes. We contacted our fruit distributor who plans to follow up on the testing.

The affected customers received a letter of apology along with a $50 gift certificate to our restaurant. They were assured we have investigated the problem and will do everything possible to avoid a similar situation in the future.

Example 8: Investigation letter of Mechanical Failure

Memorandum
TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Investigation of Mechanical Failure

On July 30, 19–, we experienced mechanical problems during a flight and were forced to make an emergency landing at JFK International Airport in New York City. An investigation began immediately upon landing the plane.

The engineers inspected the plane and discovered a small leak in the fuel line. Thankfully, the pilots discovered the problem immediately and brought the plane to a safe landing. The plane underwent the proper repairs, costing $2,500. In addition, each passenger was offered a $400 voucher for future flights and placed on another flight. The total cost to the company is estimated at $100,000. We are thankful to the pilots who discovered the problem as the losses could have been much greater.

The engineers and maintenance crew members systematically check for leaks before flights. However, leaks are sometimes too subtle to detect. New equipment is being developed to improve detection techniques.

Example 9: Investigations matters

Memorandum
TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Sprinkler Activation Investigation

On October 12, 19–, the sprinkler system on the sixth floor of our office building was inappropriately activated. The office equipment and furniture suffered some water damage before the sprinkler system was shut off. The damages are estimated at $27,000.

An investigation was led by the installers of the sprinkler system. After a thorough search, they were unable to find a malfunction or a short in the wiring. The installers suggested the system may have been manually activated. Our company is expected to begin an internal investigation to determine if this is a possible answer. This is a very serious incident which has caused significant damage to company property. If you have any information concerning the activation, please contact me immediately. Your full cooperation with this investigation is appreciated.

Example 10: Investigations Letters

Memorandum

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT: Frequent Cigarette Breaks

Since the “No Smoking” ordinance in public buildings took effect last May, many employees are going outside several times a day for cigarette breaks. We have designated the side balcony as the smoking area for those employees.

We have recently been notified by several supervisors that smoking employees are leaving their work sites several times both during the morning and afternoon hours to have a cigarette. A brief investigation of the situation determined that some employees were taking one break per hour, each one lasting approximately 15 minutes. This frequent interruption causes slowdowns in productivity as well as decreased morale for some non-smokers who do not take as many breaks.

Our company policy indicates all employees are allowed a 15-minute break for every four hours worked. Smokers are welcomed to use this time as a cigarette break. However, the 15 minutes must be taken simultaneously and cannot be broken up into several five-minute breaks.

Breaks should be taken according to policy. Your supervisors have been asked to inform me if this policy is not adhered to.

     

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