Learning from health and safety incidents (hereafter called LFI) in the workplace is critical for organisations. To ensure effectiveness of LFI and to contribute to the development of a holistic safety and learning culture in an organisation, it is important that a learning approach appropriate for the safety context is adopted. However, there are a variety of approaches to and interpretations of LFI, therefore the selection and application of a learning approach most appropriate to the problem at hand is not a straightforward task. It is, therefore, necessary for organisations to understand which approaches are useful in different contexts and under different time and cost constraints. This issue is of particular importance in an era when industry is mandated to maintain and improve increasingly high safety standards. This paper outlines the application of a range of safety-related learning approaches within the energy sector, focusing on a refinery and a gas processing plant in two distinct, multinational organisations. This study forms part of a larger project, 'Learning from incidents: a social approach to learning from health and safety incidents at the workplace'. The paper presents the results of a qualitative study including in-depth, on-site interviews with 16 employees. The study revealed five factors relevant to the selection of appropriate and effective approaches to LFI: formality of learning, learning participants, learning processes, relationship between the type of incident and learning, and type of knowledge. The paper concludes by proposing a framework for analysing and selecting effective and appropriate approaches to learning from incidents.