Updated: Mar 10
Eliminating 100% of all Accidents and injuries in the workplace is unfortunately not a realistic goal. While many organizations will claim to be on a path or journey to zero workplace injuries, we always hear anecdotes and stories from the workers about sore backs, cut fingers, and other minor injuries that they didn't feel were severe enough to tell their Supervisors about.
Unexpected incidents will occur regardless of how strict your safety measures are if you don't have a good Incident Reporting and Investigation process in place. The key to a reduction in workplace injuries is having a solid system in place which empowers workers to report injuries without a fear of reprisal, and then investigates injuries down to the Root and Indirect Cause. Once these causes have been determined, it becomes much easier to have serious conversations about which Corrective Actions should be implemented, and the method which they will be measured for success.
When injury events arise, the best thing to do is to promptly report the accident and injuries to the appropriate person or authority so that it can be thoroughly investigated. Even if the incident is a near miss and no one is injured, it should be investigated and reported so that it does not happen again and everyone remains safe on the job. To be successful, Employers must provide a standard incident report form to employees and explain how to complete and submit the form. Additional training should be given to Supervisors and Managers as well to ensure they understand how to read the reports and develop appropriate Corrective Actions.
Determining the Root Cause(s) of incidents is the best way to figure out how we can prevent this same injury from happening again. Looking at PEMEP (People, Equipment, Materials, Environment, Process) as causes of incidents instead of just in the Hazard Assessment process will help to point your HSE team in the right direction when determining Corrective Actions and Countermeasures. Are the multiple hand cuts of your sheet metal workers due to sharp materials, how they are transporting and handling the metal, a lack of hand protection, or all of the above? Without proper reporting and investigation, your organization may never be able to mitigate and reduce that particular injury properly.
Reporting accidents and injuries is a great way to figure out what went wrong and caused the incident to occur. It also aids in meeting legal duties such as filling out an accident book or reporting under the local jurisdiction's requirements, as well as filing insurance claims.
The following are a few reasons why accidents and injuries reporting should be included in a company's HSE initiatives:
Recorded incidents allow organizations to analyze data in order to avoid similar occurrences in the future
Reported accidents can be used by workers with chronic or recurring injuries as proof in a workplace insurance claim
Reporting accidents and injuries informs management of existing workplace hazards and allows them to implement corrective actions to avoid future similar incidents
Unreported minor incidents/near misses can lead to severe accidents later on because the hazard was left unnoticed in the start
The cost of reporting all accidents and injuries is substantially less than the expense of a major injury, fatality, or asset damage
Employees are encouraged to participate in workplace safety activities as a result of their involvement in incident reports
A workplace culture of reporting every accident, injury, and near miss makes it a safer place for employees while also providing a clear picture of where the organization needs to improve in the HSE performance.