Let’s face it, accidents happen. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to be caught off guard. As the old saying goes – hope for the best, plan for the worst.
By having a plan in place for how you and your staff will respond to a workplace accident, you can minimise the damage and help your employees get the help they need quickly and efficiently.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), employers have a health and safety duty to respond effectively when an accident occurs. With this obligation in mind, is your accident response procedure up to scratch?
Beneath is a simple 10-step accident response plan that will prepare your employees for the worst, helping them deal with even the hairiest, scariest situations.
10-step accident response plan
Assess the situation: Is the scene safe? Are there any immediate dangers to you, other employees, or bystanders? If not, you can proceed to the next step. If there are any immediate dangers, call emergency services immediately. If possible, you should also have everybody vacate the hazardous area.
Provide first aid: If someone is injured, provide first aid to the best of your ability. If you are not trained in first aid, call for help from a trained first aider or emergency services.
Report the accident: Report the accident to your supervisor or manager immediately. They will need to assess the situation and take any necessary steps, such as contacting emergency services, notifying the relevant authorities, and/or securing the scene of the accident.
Preserve the scene of the accident: If possible, try to preserve the scene of the accident as it was when it happened. This will help investigators to determine what caused the accident and how to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.
Gather information: Once the scene is safe and any injured employees have been treated, start gathering information about the accident. This may include talking to witnesses, taking photos or videos of the scene, and documenting any relevant information, such as the date, time, and location of the accident, as well as the names of the people involved.
Investigate the accident: Once you have gathered all of the relevant information, begin investigating the accident to determine what caused it. This may involve talking to witnesses again, reviewing any video surveillance footage, and inspecting the equipment or machinery involved in the accident.
Identify and implement corrective actions: Once you have determined what caused the accident, identify and implement corrective actions to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. This may involve changing procedures, repairing or replacing faulty equipment, or providing additional training.
Provide support to injured employees: Once the accident has been investigated and corrective actions have been implemented, provide support to any injured employees. This may include helping them to file workers’ compensation claims, providing them with access to medical care, and providing them with emotional support.
Review your workplace health and safety procedures: Take this opportunity to review your workplace health and safety procedures to make sure that they are up-to-date and effective. This will help to prevent workplace accidents from happening in the future.
Learn from the accident: Every workplace accident offers an opportunity to learn and improve. Take some time to reflect on the accident and what could have been done differently to prevent it. This information can be used to train employees and develop better workplace health and safety procedures.
Reporting to WHS regulators
The WHS Act also requires Australian employers to report certain types of workplace accidents to the relevant workplace health and safety regulator. These accidents include:
Any serious injury or illness
Any dangerous incident that exposed someone to a serious risk, even if there was no injury
Employers must report accidents immediately after they have occurred, or as soon as they become aware. You can report accidents online or by phone.
The workplace health and safety regulators vary from state to state. You can find more information about the workplace health and safety regulator in your state on the Safe Work Australia website.
In addition to reporting the accident to the regulator, employers must also preserve the scene of the accident until an inspector arrives or directs otherwise.
If you are unsure whether or not you need to report a workplace accident to the regulator, it is always best to err on the side of caution and report it.
Workplace accidents can be frightening and stressful, but it’s important to keep your cool and take appropriate steps to de-escalate the situation. By following the plan outlined above, you can minimise the impact of a worst-case scenario and create a safer workplace for everyone.
WHS advice you can trust
Australia’s workplace health and safety legislation is complex and always changing. If you’re not sure of your obligations, don’t worry, we are.
Over 31,000 Australian and Kiwi business owners trust Employsure for support with their health and safety responsibilities. Call our FREE Advice Line now on 1300 651 415 to get all your difficult health and safety questions answered.