Essential Steps for Workplace Accident Investigations

Essential Steps for Workplace Accident Investigations

Workplace accidents are not unusual. They occur every day, and some are serious enough to take the lives of the workers involved. While the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and other laws require employers to take every step possible to prevent their staff from workplace injuries and illnesses, it’s equally important that you have procedures in place for investigating any accidents that occur.

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not set specific standards for workplace accident investigation, experts recommend employers take the following steps regardless of the severity of the incident and even in the case of near-miss incidents which did not cause injury or illness.

1. Determine what happened. You’ll need to examine the accident scene (including any equipment used), speak to the injured employee (if possible) and collect the accounts of other workers who witnessed the incident. Facts you’ll need to gather include the names of the injured parties, descriptions of the injuries or damage that occurred, and a timeline of the incident.

Questions to Ask:

  • Where did the incident occur?
  • What was the employee doing at the time of the accident?
  • Was the employee performing a new job or process?
  • Were there any other workers in the area?
  • What were the witnesses doing at the time of the incident?
  • What is the physical condition of the area?
  • What injuries did affected parties sustain?
  • What damage did the accident cause?

 

2. Determine why it happened. Workplace accidents rarely happen without a reason. While common causes include shortcuts, overconfidence, neglecting safety procedures and lack of preparation, every situation is different. Taking a look at the details should help you determine the catalyst in your workplace incident.

Questions to Ask:

  • Was the area wet or muddy, too hot or too cold?
  • Was there debris within or near the accident site?
  • Was the employee qualified to perform the task?
  • Had the employee received all necessary training to perform the operation?
  • Was the employee using proper tools and equipment?
  • Were these tools and equipment in good condition?
  • Did the employee follow all company safety procedures?
  • Was the employee receiving proper supervision?

 

3. Determine how to prevent future accidents. While no business owner wants to deal with a workplace accident, there is a silver lining to every incident: the opportunity to learn how to prevent a reoccurrence.

Questions to Ask:

  • What immediate action could have prevented or minimized the incident?
  • What long-term action can you take to prevent or minimize such incidents?
  • Do you need to adjust your workplace safety procedures?
  • Do you need to review workplace safety procedures with your staff?

If you have ten or more employees and OSHA does not classify your establishment as a partially exempt industry, you must record workplace injuries and illnesses using the appropriate OSHA forms. You can learn more about record-keeping and reporting requirements on the OSHA website. If you would like further information on accident investigation and workplace safety, please contact your insurance professional or workplace safety advisor.

 
 

 

 

Following OSHA Reporting Rules: Temporary Worker Injury?

Following OSHA Reporting Rules: Temporary Worker Injury?

Temporary workers are common in today’s businesses. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, temporary help employment was up 8 percent year over year in August. Whether you’re running a call center, a retail establishment, a medical center, a manufacturing plant or a construction site, it’s quite possible you’ve supplemented your staff in the past with temporary workers hired through a staffing agency or firm. However, have you been following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules for recording temporary worker injuries and illnesses?

In a temp worker and staffing agency situation, many employers are confused about how to determine who is responsible for satisfying particular OSHA requirements. While both—the staffing agency and the host employer—are responsible for complying with laws related to workplace safety, any injuries and illnesses only need to be recorded on one party’s log. Supervision is generally the determining factor.

The employer who supervises the temporary workers on a day-to-day basis is responsible for recording any work-related illnesses or injuries they incur. According to 29 CFR 1904.31(a), day-to-day supervision means the employer “supervises the details, means, methods and processes by which the work is to be accomplished” in addition to “specifying the output, product or result to be accomplished by the person’s work.” This is the case at most businesses that employ temporary workers—so most host employers are the party responsible for maintaining illness and injury records.

In some cases, a staffing agency may have a representative present at the host employer’s workplace. However, the presence of this agent does not usually transfer the record-keeping responsibilities away from the host employer. As long as the host employer continues to provide day-to-day supervision of the temporary worker, he is responsible for recording any work-related injuries and illnesses.

It’s important that the staffing agency and host employer coordinate their methods for the reporting of work-related illnesses and injuries and communicate those instructions to the temporary workers. Should a temporary worker be involved in a workplace accident, the host employer should inform the staffing agency. If the staffing agency learns of an illness or injury, they should confirm that the host employer is aware of it. Any contract you form with a staffing agency should contain language clearly establishing these notification procedures.

To learn more about your responsibilities when employing temporary workers through a staffing agency, visit the OSHA website. For additional assistance understanding reporting rules or workplace safety regulations, contact your workplace safety advisor.