Accidents and Incidents

Accidents and incidents in the workplace will always happen. Here we will look at the differences between accidents and incidents in a workplace and what actions are needed to take after an accident or incident.

What is an Accident?

An accident is an unintended event that happens suddenly and leads to injury without one’s foresight or expectation. It often causes damage to property or injury to people, but it doesn’t have to be serious to be considered an accident.

What is an Incident?

An incident is any unplanned event, from a near-miss to a major health and safety breach, that causes property damage — but doesn’t harm any person. Incidents can often be minor and cause no harm, but they can also lead to more severe consequences if not addressed.

Actions to take after an accident or incident.

(Once injured parties have been dealt with.)

You can break down the investigation into various stages:

Gathering information

You should begin by collecting as much information as possible about the accident:

  • Examine the site of the accident. Look for any objects that are out of place and any equipment that is broken or incorrectly installed.
  • Take photos of the scene for future reference.
  • Take any measurements that’s applicable.
  • Talk to everyone who witnessed the accident and document their statement.

It is important to gather information as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get an accurate idea of what happened.

Analysing information

Next, you should analyse the information you have gathered:

  • Compare witness accounts: Do they agree? Or are there discrepancies?
  • Try to build a timeline of the event. What were the conditions leading up to the accident/incident? And what happened immediately afterwards?
  • Identify the root causes of the accident/incident. This may be a single cause or a combination of causes.
  • Decide whether the accident/incident was caused by an isolated incident or was a symptom of a larger, underlying problem.

Identifying risk control strategies

Once you have identified the cause or causes of the accident/incident, you should come up with ways to address them. If a risk cannot be eliminated altogether, you should try to think of ways to minimise it. Possible risk control strategies include:

  • Clearer signage in hazardous areas
  • Additional guarding.
  • Regular inspection of dangerous equipment
  • Additional health and safety training for staff

Creating an action plan

Firstly, ensure your risk assessments are reviewed to reflect the accident/incident and the additional controls measures put in place. After this you should compile your risk control strategies into a written action plan to supplement your written accident/incident investigation report. A member of staff should be put in charge of implementing the plan and monitoring its progress. If the suggested actions are not effective enough, the plan and risk assessments should be revisited and adapted. Even if the plan seems to be succeeding, you should review it regularly.

Pollard Safety Services can help you in any or all stages of the investigation and additional control measures.