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A Step-by-Step Guide for Dealing with Workplace Incidents and Injuries

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on May 22, 2020 at 9:18 AM

Do you know what you need to do when an accident happens in the workplace? Taking swift, decisive action is important to ensure the best possible outcome in the event of an incident. And knowing what order you should do things in is as important as knowing what to do in the first place.

Below, learn more about the important steps that should be taken whenever workplace accidents occur.

See to the Injured Parties

The welfare of those who were injured is always the top priority following an accident, so make sure you attend to them first. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), staff training and first-aid supplies should be commensurate with whatever hazards are in the workplace. That means the onus is on business owners and occupational health professionals to ensure these measures and materials are in place before any mishaps occur.

Businesses large enough to be required by law to employ medical staff should involve these individuals immediately. The injured person or people can be taken to the medical offices or the staff should be fetched and brought to the scene. In smaller companies that don’t have on-site medical professionals, a designated executive or manager should be called. In either case, the person in charge will need to determine what to do next.

Either 911 should be called or those who have been hurt should be taken to a hospital or doctor’s surgery so that they can be evaluated and given appropriate treatment. While waiting for 911 responders to arrive, or before departing to seek further medical attention, trained on-site staff should administer any first aid that is appropriate to the situation.

Secure the Scene

According to OSHA’s recommendations any serious accidents, or even so-called near misses, should be thoroughly investigated. For this to be done accurately, the scene needs to be as undisturbed as possible.

In addition to contaminating evidence, an unsecured scene could lead to secondary incidents or further damage to materials and equipment. Take the steps necessary to limit access, such as cordoning off the area and putting up temporary signs. Any machinery that is still on should be switched off at this point.

Deal with the Paperwork

After helping the accident victims and securing the scene as far as possible you need to turn your attention to completing the required paperwork. You’ll need to notify your workers’ compensation insurer within 24 hours and will also have to complete a formal incident report.

The OSHA form 300 must be used in keeping with the Administration’s requirements on injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping. This form applies to all levels of employees, from those receiving minimum wage to those at the top of the corporate ladder.

Make sure that you fill in this form correctly by getting guidance from your insurance agent. Some compensation providers have programs dedicated to helping clients with reporting, so check if your carrier offers this service.

Initiate a Return-to-Work Program

Injuries will mean that employees need to take time off work, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep this period to a minimum. The longer a staff member is away, the more challenging their return to the workplace will be.

Depression is also common during extended absences, often because individuals feel unproductive and burdensome. For employers, time off after an injury can mean that a temporary replacement must be employed, at an additional cost. The solution to these issues is to design and implement a return-to-work program, which introduces modified duties over a set timeframe.

If someone is not yet able to perform their previous tasks or has been rendered permanently unable to perform them, these modified duties will ease their transition back to usual work or create a new position in line with their abilities following the accident. This will ensure that workers are kept off long-term disability, lowering employers’ costs while preserving employees’ skills and confidence.

Review the Accident and Adjust Protocols

Unfortunately, things go wrong in offices and on factory floors. Most organizations will experience at least a few mishaps over time, to greater or lesser degrees of seriousness. The best course of action is to work on understanding what went wrong and why it happened.

This will help to prevent similar occurrences in the future, especially if you focus on what can be done going forward rather than blaming and punishing workers for the past. Following official reports and investigations, business owners and their occupational health and safety personnel should consider the incident as carefully as possible.

Companies should review the work that has already been completed regarding the incident, get as many eyewitness reports as possible, and look at reports of past events. With a clear insight into the incident, you can determine where the fault lay, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Once you’ve concluded your review, recommend or make direct changes to safety policies or protocols as appropriate. For example, if a machine malfunctioned because it was overdue for a repair, schedule more regular maintenance checks on equipment.

Foster a Good Safety Culture

Among the most effective ways to deal with and prevent workplace accidents effectively is to foster and then maintain a good safety culture. By making occupational health and safety a core value and priority within a corporate culture, organizations motivate workers to do the same.

Staff members can be empowered by involving them in conversations about how to ensure safety at work, listening to their comments on current practices, and asking their opinion on any changes that you intend to make.

You can also discuss and set goals, such as zero accidents for six months or a year, with your employees. All these actions will make them feel more united and valued within the company, leading to more productivity and, ultimately, higher profits.

Take the time to create a positive attitude towards an organization, and you’ll reap the rewards. Make health and safety a part of this, and you’ll not only protect the workers, but you’ll also help to look after the business’s bottom line.

Topics: OSHA, Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Compliance, EHS Management, Job Safety Analysis, Incident Management, Safety Management, Safety Culture, Human Resources

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