What’s in your Accident Book?

Text reads: What's in your Accident Book? Picture showing a man lying on the floor having fallen in a work setting. There is a yellow hard hat lying upside down in the foreground.
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With the last shopping days before Christmas so critical, particularly for retail and hospitality businesses, the commercial teams will be hard at work ensuring the tills keep ringing. This time of year brings some of the highest risks to employee and customer, safety as trade peaks. The task of ensuring teams are safe and following H&S processes continues, despite the added pressures. However, with the end of year almost upon us, it’s a good time for health and safety managers to take a look back and review the year’s health and safety record, by getting out the ‘accident book’.

What’s in your Accident Book?

Conducting a H&S Review for 2019

During the year each workplace accident, or near miss, involves a review of the risks and processes. No matter how formal or informal that review is. Whether that’s as straightforward as, reiterating process guidelines, putting up additional signage, or making a repair, or a full-scale review of safety processes and training needs after a more extreme incident.

HSE recommend conducting an annual health and safety review with senior management. Reviewing the prior twelve months allows you to spot patterns and identify areas for improvement. You will also be able to review previous improvement actions to identify successes over the past year. These can be shared these with the leadership team, and the wider business.

Analysing the Data

To conduct a thorough review, we suggest following three steps:

  1. Analyse the records of all workplace accidents and near misses. Creating graphs and charts are useful to help identify patterns in the data. Classifying the nature, location, time and day of an accident, as well as the department, experience / seniority and training record of any employees involved, can help draw out patterns.
  2. Talk to a selection of employees across the business to identify any new or on-going areas of concern.
  3. Overlay any health and safety improvement actions taken during the year to understand their effectiveness.

Once you have completed your analysis you will be able to identify areas for improvement and successes.

Identify Areas for Improvement

We all want to ensure everyone gets home safe. However, unfortunately accidents do happen. There are often patterns and specific context that gives rise to most workplace accidents. It’s no surprise that slips and trips in bad weather are more common, as floors become wet and slippery. But how different are the procedures for dealing with this at different times of year? You may also identify key periods during the year when space to work is more limited, or higher pressure means employees are working at a fast pace. These factors can give rise to more accidents and near misses.

Through analysing the data in your ‘accident book’, it should become clear where the most significant opportunities for improvement lie. Once you have identified these areas, you can put an action plan in place to improve them. This may include changes to communications, systems, procedures and through additional training.

Identify Successes

To build a strong health and safety culture, and engage the broader business in good health and safety practice, it is important to celebrate the successes, as well as working on improvements. Showing appreciation for staff engagement with safety improvement actions is important, and helps to keep them top of mind. Communicating the improvements in a positive and engaging way can help make the risks seem real for all employees, even if they have not been personally affected. This ensures that the successes are built upon, and the actions put in place continue to be effective.

There is often a commercial value to health and safety improvements, in addition to the safer environment they create for employees, customers and visitors. When sharing successes with senior managers, calculating the reduced costs to the business of any improvements supports the commercial value of health and safety initiatives. These may include reduced sick days, downtime and even legal fees and compensation claims.

What Training Needs Exist?

During the review you will have identified areas for improvement going forward. You may also want to consider undertaking an audit of training needs. This will help you identify training gaps and any training refreshers required. You can read more about how to conduct a health and safety training audit in our blog Time for a Health and Safety Training Audit?

Health and Safety Planning for 2020

After analysing your 2019 ‘accident book’, you can shift your focus to 2020. Armed with your areas for improvement and successes from 2019, you can draw up your outline health and safety action plan. What actions you include in your outline plan will depend on the areas you have identified in your analysis. Considering employee and visitor communication and input, equipment and signage, procedures, and processes and training should ensure the most relevant elements are captured. Once completed, the outline plan can be shared with the business to gain input from key stakeholders.

Setting Targets

While the idea of setting targets at anything above zero accidents feels wrong and sounds defeatist, the reality is that accidents do happen. While the vision is to ensure everyone gets home safe, not everyone does. The aim is to use realistic reduction targets to provide particular focus behind the identified areas for improvement. Regularly reviewing performance against the targets ensures they remain top of mind at all levels of the business.

How can we help?

Sure Safety Consultancy delivers trusted advice, training and consultancy covering workplace health, safety and fire. With decades of experience our team is equipped to deliver a fit for purpose health and safety solution for your business.

If you would like to hear more about our services, please contact us by email or call us on 029 2086 8802.