In 2017/18, HSE statistics reveal that there were 144 workers killed at work and an estimated 555,000 workers sustained non-fatal injuries. That’s a lot of accidents!
Whilst many businesses do not like to dwell on the thought of a workplace accident…a savvy business will be prepared.
In the event of an accident on your site, your first priority will be to tend to the injured person (if safe to do so), call an ambulance and ensure the area is safe for others (evacuating in an emergency if need be).
Once the injured party is being cared for, you can then turn your attention to gathering the right evidence.
Gathering evidence plays a pivotal part in accident reporting. First and foremost, if the accident’s reportable under RIDDOR, it’ll be needed as part of the reporting process.
But it also:
- Provides you with an audit trail if the injured party makes a claim against you;
- Gives you something to fall back on if an enforcing authority requests supporting documents during an inspection;
- Helps you to get to the root of the accident and prevent it from happening again; and
- Assists with the update of any internal processes and risk assessments.
So, let’s take a look at some of the key pieces of evidence you need to collate after an accident.
Take photos of the scene of the accident before it’s altered. Ensure photos of any machinery or equipment involved and other possible contributory factors e.g. failed lighting, potholes or wet surfaces. It might sound unsavoury, but you should get a picture of the injured party’s injury straight after too, to evidence the extent of the injury. From a covering-your-own-back perspective, this will protect you if the person later over eggs the degree of damage. If they refuse to allow a photo it goes without saying you can’t force it. Instead, just make a note of their resistance and keep it on file.
2. Witness statements
Aim to gather witness statements from anyone who was in the area at the time. These don’t just have to be from employees but contractors, visitors or members of the public can provide useful statements too. The witness statement should be written and signed by the individual behind it. If not, try to note down a word-for-word account and ask them to sign this.
If you had CCTV cameras in operation around the area of the accident, go back over the recordings to see what happened in the run-up to the accident – i.e. what caused it. As well as your witness statements, this will help to build a clear picture of what happened.
Locate all relevant documents e.g. risk assessments, method statements, safe systems of work, training and maintenance records for any equipment or activity relevant to the accident. If these are already stored on Safety Cloud then you can view them at the click of a button.
Take measurements where appropriate, e.g. the width and depth of potholes, deflection in racking uprights or tyre skid marks.
6. Accident Investigation Report
Detail what happened – a full chain of events based upon witness statements. Include whether the injured party went to the hospital, who took them to the hospital, what medical treatment they received and who administered the treatment.