The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority (Statens haverikommission, SHK) is an independent governmental authority under the Ministry of Justice that investigates all types of serious civil or military accidents and incidents with the aim of improving safety, regardless of whether they occur on land, at sea or in the air.
SHK is headed by a Director General who by law must be a former judge. Every investigation must also be led by a former judge. The Director General is responsible to the Government as a whole for the performance of the authority.
Examples of areas where SHK carries out investigations include civil aviation, civil maritime transport, rail and road transports, as well as fires, building construction failures, mining, environmental pollution, nuclear power and medical technology.
Whether SHK will investigate an occurrence or not is regulated by law and will vary from one area to another. In some situations an investigation is mandatory while in others it is up to SHK to decide on the basis of the anticipated safety gains of an investigation.
Normally, however, it is the seriousness of the event which determines whether or not it will be investigated. If an accident has resulted in multiple fatalities or serious injuries, or if there has been extensive damage to property or the environment, SHK will often initiate an investigation.
An accident investigation aims at answering three questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent a similar occurrence from happening in the future, or to mitigate its consequences if it does happen? The investigation shall also provide a basis for assessment of the performance of rescue services and, when appropriate, for improvements of these rescue services.