Response to a workplace incident
3 important steps to take in response to a workplace incident
By Michael Selinger Editor-in-Chief, Health & Safety Handbook
Once an incident occurs at your workplace, you need to take all reasonable steps to attend to any injured workers, secure the worksite and report the incident to your health and safety regulator.
Attend to injured workers
The first critical step after an incident has occurred is usually to attend to the medical needs of anyone who has been injured. In most cases, first aiders will be able to determine if a worker’s injury is severe enough to require external medical attention.
It’s important to remember that even if a worker claims to be fine and able to continue working, it is best not to rely on the worker’s personal assessment. First aiders are trained to assess the mobility of injured workers and can give the employer a fair idea as to the seriousness of the worker’s condition.
Secure the worksite
Sometimes before attending to the injured worker it may be necessary to secure the worksite in order to avoid further risks of injury, including to the injured worker. For example, if the worker is trapped under a structure and it is not clear whether the structure will collapse, securing it might take precedence over attending to the immediate health needs of the worker.
This might not always be practicable. For example, it might not be possible to access the injured worker until the area is made safe, e.g. if there has been a chemical release into the environment. You should also be aware that in some cases, moving the structure could cause further harm to the injured person.
After taking care of any injured worker’s needs and securing the worksite, you may need to provide appropriate care and possibly counselling for other workers who might have been affected by the incident.
Report the notifiable incident
You must notify the safety regulator immediately by telephone and, if requested, also in writing within 48 hours of the incident. If you are not sure whether the incident is a ‚ ≤notifiable incident’, still notify the regulator.
The safety regulator will decide whether to send an inspector to an incident site within about one hour of being notified of the incident, and inspectors generally visit the workplace within an hour after that.