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HR 101 – How to Report Work Related Incidents – Part 1

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

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) has several requirements in terms of the reporting of incidents that occur in the workplace.

Let’s have a look at some of these through our protagonists.

Mike has a Postnet store in a busy mall. He supplies certain stationary as well as services related to business operations such as (but not limited to):

– Photocopying of documents
– Binding of manuals
– Faxing
– E-mails and internet usage

Joe is one of the employees who works on the counter.

A client enters the store and wants 200 manuals copied and bound. There are two items on each page so the pages therefore have to be cut in half before they are all bound.

Joe works quickly and efficiently for a while until, whilst he is busy with the guillotine cutting the pages in two he notices something lying on the floor. Without thinking about what he is doing, he steps back to pick it up off the floor and the guillotine handle drops with a loud thud, cutting the back of his hand badly and severing his pinky finger. There is blood everywhere and some of the female staff are screaming with fright. Joe, shakily looks down at his damaged hand in disbelief and reacts to the sight of so much blood by promptly fainting! As he falls down one of the female staff, Lizzy, tries to assist him but trips over a box of photocopy paper and falls down hitting her head on the corner of the Photostat machine.

There are now two unconscious individuals lying on the floor with blood everywhere!

So what has to be reported?

Clearly Mike needs to take immediate action in terms of the medical requirements of his staff. Once the ambulance has arrived and taken care of the two staff, there are obviously certain requirements in terms of 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.

OHSA states 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 either to die or
• Suffer a permanent physical defect or
• Is likely to be unable for a period of at least 14 days either to work or continue with the activity for which he was employed or is usually employed.

Mike of course now has to provide two reports – one being for Joe who was unconscious and who may also lose part of a limb and one for Lizzy who was knocked unconscious.

Both Joe and Lizzy were at work performing their normal work duties when the incident took place so therefore both are entitled to claim from the Workmen’s Compensation Fund but both incidents also need to be reported in terms of the OHSA requirements.

Next time we will look at some of the other reporting requirements.