Workplace accidents can have a negative impact on a business in many ways. If serious enough, they can result in a loss of productivity, reduced staff morale, increased absenteeism, and even temporary or permanent closure.
According to research from Safe Work Australia, 106,260 people lodged a serious claim in 2016-17, costing small businesses a median of $11,500 per claim. These incidents also represented a median of 5.6 weeks in lost productivity per claim.
For this reason, it’s important that staff and employers work together to take reasonable steps to reduce work-related injuries, and to maintain a consistent record of each injury as they occur in the form of an accident record.
You may not be able to prevent accidents from happening at work but, if they do happen, you must handle them lawfully and wisely.
To do that, you must keep a record of every workplace accident (often called a ‘Register of Injuries’). This must be available at all times, and each report should contain the following information:
Anyone injured at work, including direct worker, agency employee, contractor, customer or visitor, must be on the register of injuries. Always store personal data carefully in line with privacy law.
You must also review the incident to find out whether there are steps you could take to stop it from happening again. A serious injury, or risk to plant and equipment, will need a more in-depth investigation.
A workplace incident is any event that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to that person’s health or safety.
Different types of injuries and illnesses can be sustained from a workplace incident. According to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) a serious injury or illness of a person isn’t illness or injury that requires:
Not all workplace incidents are serious enough to warrant an investigation. Once an incident report has been sent to the relevant work health and safety regulator, they will assess the following factors to determine if they should carry out an incident investigation:
If the incident is serious enough, the local supervisor or manager – in cooperation with an expert from the relevant work health and safety regulator – must carry out a formal incident investigation procedure to:
During the investigation you must collect relevant information from anyone who was involved in the incident. While you may receive some of this information in the Register of Injuries, you will need to conduct face-to-face interviews so you can piece together the sequence of events that led to the incident.
After you collect this information, you must uncover the cause of the incident and come up with reasonable recommendations to address the contributing factors of the incident to eliminate or reduce the risk of further injury.
In order to figure out the cause of an incident, and to make appropriate changes to eliminate or reduce the chance of the same incident happening again, you need to perform a risk assessment at the incident site.
While the nature of a workplace risk can vary from place-to-place, the most common types of hazards at work include:
By assessing the risk site, and using the information you collected from all parties involved, you will be able to identify the hazards and evaluate the risks, and then implement the right control measures to prevent the risk of serious injury and illness.