As a small business owner, keeping your employees healthy and happy is top priority; no-one likes to think about workplace accidents. But if the worst was to happen, would you know what to do?
Health & Safety is often the butt of jokes, but make no mistake – workplace injuries can cause pain, stress, and even long-term disability. In the modern-day work environment, there are regulations in place to help protect employees and, as an employer, it's vital that you know what to do if an incident does occur.
A well-prepared plan for dealing with accidents and injuries will not only benefit your employees, but also help to avoid legal problems for you and your company. So, if someone is injured at your workplace, what should you do?
If an injury has occurred, your first priority should be the safety of your employees. As an employer, it's your duty to provide adequate first aid facilities, including training and equipment. If someone is seriously hurt, first aiders will be able to ensure the safety of the injured until further help arrives. Depending on the severity of the incident, you may need to call for an ambulance. Not sure whether one is needed or not? It's best to be cautious and call one, just in case.
Once the injured person has been taken care of, there are details that you should take care of. Most importantly, if the employee had to be taken to hospital, notify their next-of-kin immediately. You can now fill in an accident report form, including details of what occurred, who was involved, and what steps were taken and when. You may also wish to take photographs of the area and interview any employees who may have seen what happened; these details may help to protect you legally.
If you are at all concerned that an employee may wish to take legal action against you or your company, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Reporting A Serious Incident
There are certain serious work-related incidents that you must report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), or to the Health and Safety department at your local authority.
Reportable Incidents Include:
• Major injury (including fractures, dislocation, injuries to the eye, chemical burns, and unconsciousness)
• Any injury lasting longer than 7 days which prevents an employee from working (this changed recently from a 'more than 3 days' requirement, so make sure you're up-to-date)
• The contraction of any occupational disease
A comprehensive list can be found here.
Still not sure if you need to report an incident? Some practical examples of what should and shouldn't be reported can be seen here.
While most minor accidents don't need to be reported to the HSE, you may still be required to record them in a log ('accident book'). This is primarily for the benefit of employees, as it provides a useful record of what happened in case of disputes over compensation. You can find out how much an employee may be able to claim from an accident by using a compensation calculator.
Finally, once the dust has settled, you can use the opportunity to review your health & safety procedures. Consult the records of the accident and see if there are any updates you can make to your policies to prevent it from happening again. By remaining vigilant, you can better protect your employees, yourself, and your business.
Have you had any experiences with workplace accidents? When was the last time you reviewed your accident plan? Let us know in the comments section below.