Identifying hazards, creating strict safety rules and procedures, and mandating the use of protective equipment can all help to keep your construction workers safe. But even in these relatively safe conditions, it is possible for a worker to experience injury.
What do you do in this scenario? What are the best ways to handle workplace injury?
Clear and thorough communication is one of the most important principles to follow in post-injury reporting. It is also important to act responsibly and decisively, so that you can give the injured party the medical attention they need and secure the area.
You can’t do any of this if you’re panicking about the situation. That is why your highest and first priority should be to stay calm. After an injury, take a deep breath, focus on your main goals, and try to keep the people around you calm.
Put Immediate Safety First
Next, you need to prioritize the immediate safety of the injured person and the people around them. Your goal is to prevent further injury in the workplace.
- Bring the injured to safety. If you can safely move the injured party, get them to a safe place. Make sure they are not in a position to get hurt further and that they are as comfortable as possible for the present moment.
- Eliminate the risk of further damage. Your next job is to eliminate the risk of further injuries, especially if this injury is the result of an ongoing threat, such as a piece of equipment that doesn’t work. Get other people to safety, shut down equipment if necessary, and use emergency signage to communicate with others about potential hazards.
- Secure emergency medical assistance. While you secure the area, have someone else get medical help if needed. Depending on the severity of the injury, that may mean driving the injured person to the hospital, calling an ambulance, or even providing emergency aid at the scene.
Gather Information and Investigate
Once you get emergency medical help, you can begin to gather information and investigate the incident.
Take photos and videos of the injured party, if possible, as well as photos and videos of the environment where the incident occurred. Take recordings of witness statements from anyone who saw the incident, and do your best to piece together a sequence of events. Try to be as detailed and thorough as possible in your initial reporting.
Provide Directions and Guidance to Aggrieved Parties
It is a good idea to provide some guidance and direction to the injured person, or someone who can relay information directly to them. For example, if you have a workers compensation insurance policy in place, explain to them how they can make the most of it. Help them figure out the best way to take leave from work, whether that’s tapping into FMLA leave or taking traditional PTO.
File a Formal Report
Once you have all the details, you are ready to file a formal incident report. Make sure you describe the incident in as much detail as you can, paying attention to what happened, where it happened, when it happened, who was involved, and perhaps most importantly, why this incident happened.
Identify the root causes, any safety deficiencies that may have led to it, and specific changes you can make in the future to prevent it from happening again.
In some cases, you may need to notify OSHA about the incident right away If a fatality occurs, OSHA must be notified within 8 hours; In-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of eye incidents must be reported within 24 hours.
If you fail to report a major injury or death when you are required to do so, your organization could face severe fines or other legal consequences.
Reflect and Improve
Finally, take time to reflect and improve your workplace. Whenever an injury occurs, there is something you can learn and something you can change going forward. It is especially important to identify and eliminate hazards, including hazards that contributed to the recent injury.
- Talk about the accident. Communicate with your entire crew about the accident. Make sure everyone understands exactly what happened and how it happened, as well as how they can prevent an accident like this in the future. An injured person is a harsh reminder that everyone in the workplace is vulnerable.
- Change the rules (if necessary). If this damage is the result of failed policies or undetected safety hazards, consider starting new policies or revising your existing ones. For example, you can order a new piece of PPE to be worn in a specific area.
- Provide training and education. This is a great opportunity to provide more training and education to your employees in the workplace. What steps can they take to make the workplace environment safer for themselves and everyone around them?
- Consider adjustments to your response plan. This is also an opportunity for you to review your response plan and see if it needs to be adjusted. When the person was injured, did they get help right away? Have you done a thorough investigation and discovered the root causes of the accident? If not, consider adjusting your injury response strategy.
No one wants to see an injury in the workplace, especially if you are responsible for maintaining workplace safety. But if you have the right response plan in place, and you can stay calm while communicating clearly throughout the process, you’ll be in a better position to recover from the injury quickly and completely.