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Two vital facts you must know about investigating accidents in the workplace

by , 21 May 2014
In November 2013, a mall in Tongaat collapsed killing two people and injuring 29 more.

After the disaster, government established a commission of inquiry into the collapse.

One of the things that came out of the ongoing inquiry is workplace hazards on site weren't investigated. This includes a slab of concrete that sagged in the days leading up to a collapse.

Maybe a proper accident investigation could have prevented this disaster!

This incident shows that some employers don't know the facts about investigating accidents at work.

Don't fall into the same trap. Read on to find out two vital facts about investigating accidents so you can prevent fatalities.


Your 1 527 health and safety duties as an employer

When was the last time you checked what disinfecting agents and cleaning materials your company uses?

Do you comply with the Hazardous Chemical Regulations?

There are over 1 500 items you must evaluate in your workplace according to the OHS Act and hundreds more from SABS 0400: National Building regulations.

Health and safety laws apply to EVERY company, if you have more than 20 employees you have even greater obligations.



Two must know facts about investigating accidents at work

Fact #1: An accident investigation must take place within 24 hours

If an accident happens in your workplace, you must appoint a competent person in writing to carry out an investigation.

The Health & Safety Advisor says the following people must be present when an investigation takes place:

  • The person/s involved.
  • The departmental manager.
  • The HSE representative of the department involved.
  • The engineer or artisan where machinery and equipment is involved.
  • A competent person where hazardous chemical substances are involved.

There's one more fact you need to know about investigating accidents.


Are you responsible for compiling your SHE file?

Are you struggling to keep up-to-date with all the paperwork?

Do you waste your time formatting all the documents?

Are you stressed out about all your legal requirements?

Of course you are. You have enough on your plate already, and keeping up with paperwork isn't on the top of your to-do list. But unfortunately, it's part of your job because it's a legal requirement. And, you've answered 'YES' to at least half of the questions above.


Here's another important fact about investigating accidents at work

Fact #2: .You must investigate the sequence of events leading up to, during or after the incident

At this stage, the people involved in the investigation must also discuss issues like:

  • Whether employees wore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when doing the work;
  • Findings from the preliminary report.
  • Whether the causes are job related due to unsafe conditions or whether the cause was person related due to an unsafe act.

If you want to find out more facts about investigating accidents or about reporting accidents, check out the Health & Safety Advisor.

Our experts remind you once again that, 'if you don't investigate incidents and implement corrective and preventive action you're at risk of more severe incidents occurring, including fatalities.'

We hope these two important facts will help you comply when it comes to investigating workplace accidents.

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