By law, there are stringent measures that needs to be followed when it comes to occupational health and safety – in other words health, safety and environmental management in the workplace.
Although this often comes across as a bunch of rules to make paranoid people happy and people often feel that the HSE policies and procedures are overly cautious, people sometimes shirk their responsibilities to follow and enforce these policies and procedures; thinking that “it will never happen to me” and “this hard hat is too tight and annoys me’.
What they fail to realise is that it is far better to be safe rather than sorry; and that accidents are called that for a reason – they rarely come with 24-hour warnings. We cannot always avoid every threat out there and ultimately, our best bet is to prepare for risks – both in trying to minimise and avoid them as well as be prepared how to minimise their impact if they should happen.
And then, once the worst has happened and we are left to deal with the fall-out, we need to report on what went wrong, what we did to prevent this and how we planned for the possible consequences. There needs to be accountability.
Another reason why reporting on HSE incidences in the workplace is important is to help us to work out how we can prevent them from recurring. If we can identify the causes, we can put measures in place to make sure the likelihood of another person coming to harm for the same reason is lessened or eliminated.
Section 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act identifies which types of incidences must be reported and investigated by the employer (or user of machinery):
- When someone passes away.
- When someone becomes unconscious.
- When someone loses a limb or a part of a limb.
- When someone becomes ill or is likely to die or suffer a permanent physical defect.
- When/someone is unable to work for 14 days or longer because of the incident.
- When a “major incident” occurs.
- When medical treatment in addition to normal first aid is required.
If lives were endangered by any of the following occurrences, the provincial director of occupational health and safety:
- When dangerous substances were spilled.
- When a substance under pressure was released in an uncontrolled manner.
- When there was a flying, falling or uncontrolled moving object(s).
- When machinery ran out of control.
How to report an incident
All of the above-mentioned incidents should immediately be reported to the provincial director via telephone, fax or similar means – or if you have Strategix’s HSE software solution on hand, you can do so immediately as soon as the incident has been stabilised and it is safe to do so – all you need is a mobile device and an internet connection. In addition, the incident should also be reported to the provincial director within seven days using the WCL 1 or WCL 2 forms.
Records should be kept for a period of no less than three years.
Other things to note:
All record of any incidents that required medical treatment or first aid must be kept, for a minimum of three years.
The site of the incident may not be disturbed without the consent of an inspector in the following cases:
- When someone has passed away.
- When someone lost a limb or part of a limb.
- When someone is likely to pass away due to the events of the incident.
However, in the above circumstances, you are allowed to remove injured or dead people, and rescue people from danger.
This does not apply to the following type of incidents:
- A traffic accident on a public road.
- An incident at a private household.
- An accident as defined by the Aviation Act.
Who can perform the investigation?
- The employer or user of machinery.
- Someone appointed by the employer or user of machinery.
- A health and safety representative of the employment area.
- A member of the company’s health and safety committee.
The investigation should start within seven days of the incident and be completed as soon as is reasonably and practically possible. If contracted workers were involved, it should be completed within the contracted period. Thereafter, the health and safety committee must be given access to the report for examination.
When it comes to health and safety management, reporting on incidences is regulated by law and should therefore by handled with the utmost of care and responsibility. Strategix’s new HSE solution enables you to make the initial report at the scene of the incident, with ease of use that takes into account the fact that you might be shaken or in a less calm situation.
Furthermore, the system is thorough, effective and easy to complete. We may not be able to prevent all incidences, but we can make sure that they are managed in a proper, policy-compliant and proficient way!