Incidents have a range of severity and can happen to anyone at any time in the workplace. How you report and manage these will have a direct impact on your business.
While some incidents are notifiable to New Zealand’s authority, Worksafe NZ, most incidents and their information will not be shared with those outside of your business. This article will simplify the different types of incidents, their effect, and what your obligations are.
Reporting incidents can be done verbally, in paper format, or logged digitally in a software. The method that your company uses will be included in your health and safety manual/system and will likely be included in your induction.
As a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) you have a legal obligation to keep all people at your workplace safe and free of harm as best you can. The level of control and resources that need to be allocated to this will differ between businesses and industries.
What is Incident Reporting?
Incidents can happen in several different ways. The first is a near miss, this is an incident that does not involve physical harm this time but could have. An example of this is material falling from racking and nearly hitting someone. These need to be reported as left alone they will eventually end up hurting people. The second is a first aid incident (FAI), this is an incident that requires first aid care, such as plasters. These two incidents are the two most common types of incidents in the workplace. The next type is a medical treatment incident (MTI), this means that the injured person required care from medical professionals, such as A&E or hospital care. The last type of incident is a lost time incident (LTI), this means that the injured person required time of work to recover.
Some companies will set objectives to reduce or eliminate incidents, known as ‘Zero Harm’ or notice boards that show the number of days since the last incident. While these are meant well, they often result in workers not reporting incidents to keep the status quo and stay on target. This means that incidents, including near misses are not reported, and therefore protocols are not put in place and people end up hurt.
Some incidents will need to be investigated to find the root cause and implement corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence. These investigations should be completed by a competent person and include input from those involved in the incident, and those that are involved in the task. While any incident can be investigated the severity of the incident will define whether it should be investigated or not.