No solar operations manager wants a workplace incident to occur under his/her watch, which is why it’s important to ensure there is a strong safety plan in place. One part of the plan is to focus on prevention, where companies proactively put training and identification measures in place, such as a job hazard analysis and mitigation.
The other component is reactive and focuses on ensuring there are processes in place for if an accident does occur (for clarity: an accident is an incident where there is a personal injury). Depending on the severity of the accident, such steps can include immediate treatment of the accident victim, documenting the incident and reporting it to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This article is focused on how to best perform the lattermost activity: incident reporting.
Why Proper Incident Reporting is Crucial
Using the lessons and data learned from an accident to prevent similar ones from occurring again in the future is a key reason for properly documenting incidents. Incident reporting and subsequent analysis are best practices for a safer workplace and can help you identify the steps needed to improve the working environment and employee safety training.
Another major reason to reinforce proper incident reporting is to ensure that your company is in compliance with OSHA’s regulatory standards. By having sufficient documentation that is appropriately cataloged, you will save time and worry, and reduce the risk of hefty fines or sanctions in the event a workplace inspection occurs.
However, such an important part of workplace safety is still entrusted to paper forms that can easily be lost or sloppily filled in with partial, missing, and often illegible information.
The Incident Reporting Process
As a brief overview, the common steps for responding to a workplace accident across most industries are as follows:
- Ensure the injured employee(s) receives appropriate attention. Supervisors should be aware of the different severity levels of injury and know the recommended medical action to take at each level.
- Following the accident, the supervisor completes an incident reporting form. For example, see OSHA’s template for an employee injury report form.
- Ensure all appropriate personnel are notified. Accidents happen and as much it is human nature to sweep workplace mishaps under the rug, incidents needs to be shared. Having employees who are aware and informed can be more beneficial for everyone’s safety.
- Submit incident report according to the rules of the regulatory body in your jurisdiction. For detailed documentation on how to set up an incident reporting process that meets regulatory standards, see OSHA’s Small Business Handbook.
- Take the time to feed the learnings from the accident back into improving workplace safety procedures. Failure to do so will affect the integrity and strength of your safety system and lead to repeat of past incidents.