HR 101 – How to Report Work Related Incidents – Part 2

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Please note that this applies to South African Labour and Best Practice Requirements

Last time we looked at some of the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), in terms of the reporting of incidents that occur in the workplace.

We looked specifically at the reporting requirements around (but not limited to) incidents such as:

– When someone dies
– When someone becomes unconscious
– When someone suffers the loss of a limb or part of a limb
– When someone suffers a permanent physical defect or
– When someone is likely to be unable, for a period of at least 14 days to either work or continue with the activity for which he was employed or is usually employed.

Today we will have a look at some of the other reporting requirements.

In terms of the OHSA subsection (C ), the following incidents endangering the health and safety of any person must also be reported to the inspector:-

– Where a dangerous substance was spilled,
– Where the uncontrolled release of any substance under pressure took place
– Where machinery or any part thereof fractured or failed resulting in flying, falling or uncontrolled moving objects or
– Where machinery ran out of control.

So let’s bring on the protagonists.

George owns a furniture manufacturing company. He is preparing for his year-end stock take and is having an ‘end of year’ sale to try and sell all the “older” lines before year end to get as much turnover through the books and also to make space in the warehouse for the new lines and stock that are to be manufactured in the new financial year.

Samuel is a fork lift driver, He works specifically with the fork lift that has the ‘telescopic’ arms that reaches the highest shelves in the warehouse.

Some of the furniture cannot be palletised and this means that several employees need to be lifted up onto the top shelves to manually move and manover the furniture onto the “telescopic” arms of the fork lift.

John and Simon are at the top of the shelves moving an awkward six seater semi circular lounge suite couch onto the ‘telescopic’ arms of the fork lift. As John moves the couch onto the one arm, he slips and loses his grip on the couch. To stop himself from falling, although he is secured in a safety harness, he grabs the nearest post and with legs flailing and kicking he manages to pull himself into a more comfortable and secure position.

Unfortunately as he was flailing and kicking he dislodged the couch even further as Samuel moved away from the shelves to give him more room. The couch is now swinging wildly out of control.

Samuel, in an attempt to try and get John to some sort of safely, tries to move the forklift closer to the shelves, but unfortunately the forklift is long overdue for a service and the gears are slipping and instead of a ‘smooth’ forward slow motion towards the shelves the forklift jerks backwards and stalls snapping the harness that John is attached to and putting John in an even more precarious position as the unexpected forklift movement has dislodged him completely from his position on the shelving and he’s lost his balance.

The jerky movements of the forklift has also caused the couch to not only swing from side to side, it is now also spinning and John grabs desperately at the legs of the couch in a last ditch attempt to grab onto something . . . anything to break his fall.

John misses and the last thing he remembers is the terrified look on Simon’s face as he falls some 15 meters to the floor and lands with a sickening resounding thump!

As Simon is leaning over the edge of the shelf and watching his colleague fall to the floor he is not aware of the danger that he is in from the ‘out of control’ couch as it swings wildly.

Suddenly some instinct seems to warn him of danger and as he looks up the couch crashes into him, causing him to lose his balance and he loses his grip on the post and his footing and he also plunges down the same 15 odd meters to the floor.

Samuel, in his panic to control the forklift and the madly swinging and gyrating couch presses the wrong button and the forklift leaps forward driving over the now prone unconscious bodies of Simon and John.

Clearly this is now a very serious situation on multiple issues.

So what has to be reported here?

George obviously needs to take immediate action in terms of the requirements of his staff , the out of control swinging couch and the forklift.

Once the ambulance has arrived and taken care of his two employees, there are obviously certain requirements in terms of the OHSA that have to be met as well as certain requirements in terms of the Workmen’s Compensation Fund that need to be dealt with in order for the claims to be approved and paid out.

In this instance, the OHSA requirements are that an incident has to be reported when:-

– A person dies or
– A person becomes unconscious or
– A person suffers the loss of a limb or part of a limb or
– A person is otherwise injured or becomes ill to such a degree that he is likely to die or:
• Suffer a permanent physical defect or
• Is likely to be unable to, for a period of at least 14 days, either to work for or continue with the activity for which he was employed or is usually employed.

Don’t forget though, that your report has to contain the following information:

a. The name of the injured person(s);
b. The address of the injured person(s);
c. The name of the user, employer or self-employed person(s);
d. The address of the user, employer or self-employed person(s);
e. The telephone number of the user, employer or self-employed person(s);
f. The name of the contact person
g. The details of the incident
h. What happened
i. Where it happened (place)
j. When it happened (date and time)
k. How it happened and
l. The names of the witnesses.

Also to contained in the report (because machinery was involved)

“Where the machinery ran out of control as a result of the failure of a control or safely equipment and could have caused an injury to a person who had been conveyed on or in such machinery or had been in the vicinity thereof.”

Getting the reports right and submitted correctly and on time will contribute to the effectively of the actions that need to be taken.

Next time we will look at a new topic.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@nullviljoenconsulting.co.za or www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

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