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Are you prepared for incidents in your workplace?

by , 26 March 2013
Are you prepared when tragic incidents strike at your workplace? The reason I ask this question is because I read a story about a little girl (she's 6) who lost three of her toes when her foot got caught in an escalator at a mall in Amanzimtoti. It's a pretty tragic story because apart from losing 3 of her toes, part of her foot also had to be amputated.

She was barefoot, and yet there were apparently signs all over the mall warning people not to walk barefoot on the escalator.

Be prepared!
You have to be prepared for freak accidents and incidents at your workplace because no matter how many steps you take to guard against any incidents, the reality is something could sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Here are some questions we received from some of our subscribers to help you deal with incidents at the workplace and ensure you are compliant with the law.
How should I categorise incidents in my HSE system?
I'm in the process of putting together a safety system for our company and I'm not sure if I've covered all aspects of it.
Should I include in my system any injury a doctor allocates as sick days, or, if the patient goes back to the doctor for progressive check-ups as a recordable case? Should I treat anything less as a first aid case?
Categorise and define incidents on site as follows:
Note: Incidents in terms of the OHSA refers to, injuries, illness, damage and environmental damage.
These are the categories most commonly used in most companies for recording and reporting incidents:
  1. First aid incident: injuries such as minor cuts, bruising etc., that the first aider can treat from the first aid box on site, the employee stays at work without loss of time.
  2. Minor incidents: if you have an occupational health clinic on site, the nursing sister will treat these and your employee will return to work without loss of a shift (if you don't have a clinic, you must send your employee to a facility for treatment)
  3. Damage incidents: incident where damage of plant, equipment, machinery or product occurred but no employees suffered an injury. 
  4. No loss incidents (near miss/hit incidents): when you identify a situation where an injury or damage could've taken place, but didn't. You should investigate this and address the causes to prevent similar incidents in future.
  5. Environmental incident: spillage, accidental flow of substances into  storm water or sewerage system on site. You can divide this category into small, medium and large spillage, if you wish.
What do I report and to whom?
Reportable incidents:  you must report all incidents to the Department of Labour (Section 24 and 25, OHSA) on an Annexure 1 form.
Recordable incidents: these are all incidents resulting in loss of time from work for a full shift and longer.  This means that if the worker could'nt return to work for the next shift, you'll report this to COID.
You must ensure the injured person is treated by (clinic, emergency room, hospital, IOD centres etc). The diagnosis and treatment information must be sent to COID. Usually the treatment facility does this, or if you have an Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner (on contract or permanent staff), this would be their responsibility. This leaves an account of the incident, which you then send to COID.
Road traffic accidents should be included in these categories, for instance, only vehicle damage (Category 3), vehicle damage and injury (Category 3 and either 1, 2, or 5).
You need to record all of these categories into your system.
If your employee goes back for check-ups, but is at work this isn't lost time.
For statistical reporting purposes, injuries to persons should be separated from damage to property etc.
It's a legal requirement. You must identify hazards and assess risks in your company!
A comprehensive risk assessment must be compiled for your workplace. Doing this will allow you to protect your employees from health and safety hazards, and save yourself from a R100 000 fine, two years in jail or even both!
How often should I have my workplace inspected?
Could you please clarify the minimum legal requirement for the frequency of OHS inspections in the workplace?
The scope and purpose of the OHSA is as follows:
'To provide for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery; the protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work; to establish an advisory council for occupational health and safety; and to provide for matters connected therewith.'
The very basis of the OHSA is for you, the employer, to create and maintain a healthy and safe workplace. You do this by identifying the hazards in the workplace and dealing with these. One of the ways of identifying hazards is by conducting regular Inspections.
The Act isn't, however, very specific about the frequency of inspections and only specifies inspections in some of the regulations, the rule in most companies is that inspections are carried out monthly unless specific inspection frequencies are prescribed in the regulation applicable to the activity, machine, plant etc., for example Major Hazardous Installation Regulations.
In the Construction Industry the client and the principle contractor (as well as sub-contractors) will agree on the frequency of inspections depending on the length of the contract, what type of work is to be done, what machinery will be used etc., the law states that regular inspections, must be done.
The purpose of inspections is to identify hazards, take corrective/preventive action and to  measure compliance, the findings are measured against the health and safety plan (construction) or checklist protocols.
For more on incidents and inspections go to the following chapters in your Health and Safety Advisor:
-    I01 Incidents: Procedures to follow;
-    I02 Incidents: Reporting them and claiming from the Compensation Fund;
-    I03 Inspections: Health and Safety;
-    I07 Incidents: Preventing them in the workplace;
-    W03 Workplace facilities: inspections and maintenance
-    D03 Dol Inspections: 18 questions to answer yes to
REMEMBER: As a valued customer, you have access to all of these Chapters in all our Updates of the Health and Safety Advisor from our online archive. Go to membership.fspbusiness.co.za if you can't find these chapters in your binder or updates.
Click here if you don't have the Health and Safety Advisor.
Until next time folks,
Stay safe,
Kerusha Narothan
Product Manager: Health and Safety Training Manual

P.S. For more health and safety questions and answers, go to www.healthandsafetyclub.fspbusiness.co.za. Register and ask as many questions you want, its FREE

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