We’ve all heard the saying “It’ll never happen to me”, well unfortunately sometimes it does, and if it does happen the accompanying stress can reach a pretty high level.
So what exactly happens in this situation? If it’s a standard accident then you need to record it, and this isn’t an option, it’s a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for any business in any industry. Following the accident there needs to be an accident investigation. I don’t mean a hundred page document, but something that details what happened, what was involved, and what caused the accident; but more importantly what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again, remembering your duties under the act to take “All reasonable and practicable steps’.
The next level of accident would be one that is serious enough that it requires notification to WorkSafe as per your responsibility under the act. In this instance you need to preserve the scene so that the visiting inspector can get the full picture of what happened. After an initial site visit they will determine whether this is something that requires a more detailed investigation, and if that happens you are in for long ride as they have twelve months from the date of the accident to decide whether they will go ahead with enforcement action.
This is where it is imperative you have some formal Health & Safety documentation. You will be asked to provide a raft of documentation despite WorkSafes party line of “as long as you are talking about it we don’t expect you to document everything” – Wrong;if you have documentation, you are better dressed to weather the storm of a formal WorkSafe investigation, and furthermore that little voice in the back of your head that is saying “Shit what do I do?” or “how do we manage Health & Safety on the farm?” or “How can we prove we have done that?” will be a little quieter.
Don’t rely on word of mouth to manage Health & Safety in your business because it will only work until it’s too late and don’t make “we didn’t think it would happen” a viable defence should you end up in front of a judge.
Be proactive and be prepared.