Investigations

Eventually, our system will break down, and we’ll have an incident. For us, an incident is one of five things:

  1. Someone was injured or had significant property damage.

  2. Someone committed a Code of Conduct or Anti-Harassment policy violation.

  3. We had to refuse service to a participant for whatever reason.

  4. We had to stop an event.

  5. Someone reports an unsafe situation.

 

We can also do an investigation at any time we feel we were exposed to any significant risk, and want to figure out why.


The purpose of an investigation is to recommend controls to prevent incidents in the future. It’s not punitive, and it’s not supposed to “fix” past situations. It is completely focused on “how do we stop this from happening again.” Every investigation works the same way: we assign an investigator with experience in root cause analysis, and they look into what happened. They’re going to conduct interviews, collect evidence, and try to put together a “sequence of events,” a series of events that led up to the incident. Once they have a sequence of events, they’ll identify the causes of the incident, 

and identify any hazards associated with that cause. They’ll then perform arisk analysis, and recommend controls to reduce the probability of the hazard causing an incident again, or if it does occur, lessen the severity. They’ll then present all that information to us (the company).

 

Throughout the process, they’ll protect the anonymity of any participants to the maximum extent possible. If a participant’s behavior is the subject of the investigation, this may not be possible, but generally, individual witnesses and other participants affected by the behavior should remain unnamed. At the end of the investigation, the sequence of events, causes, hazards, risk assessment and recommended controls should be sanitized (to have any identifying information removed) and shared with all parties involved.  We’ll then act upon the recommendations to the maximum extent possible.


Note: at no point do we say “we’re going to punish anyone.” Generally, if someone’s behavior is the subject of investigation, we’ll notify them that they can’t attend events until the investigation is complete. This is a temporary refusal of service. When the investigation is complete, we’ll do one of three things:

  1. If we see no need for a change in behavior, we’ll lift the refusal of service.

  2. If we see a need for a change in behavior, we’ll give the person a “get well plan” and work with them to accomplish it, then lift the refusal of service.

  3. If we don’t see a path for their return, particularly if they threatened or performed violence or violated consent, we will inform them of a permanent refusal of service.

 

Your behavior is under investigation, you have a right to have this policy explained to you, so you understand what is happening, and how to address it.

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© 2020 by Sinking Ship Creations, LLC

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Hover on the images for photo credit. Primary photography by Frank Martinez (model: Katalena Mermelstein)