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Achieving a WHS Incident Reporting Procedure Hum

Posted by Scott Nailon on

“Nice. Very nice!” That’s how I felt as I drove the rented V8 convertible, top down and in the Queensland sun. On the open road, and even at suburban lights, the engine hummed with barely contained aggro. The hum, grunt and growl of that powerful engine delivered simple but profound pleasure. Your WHS incident reporting procedure can hum too. Let’s see how. 

In our last two articles, we explored work health and safety reporting, why it is that underreporting happens, and what we can do about it. Though we went more in-depth than this, the reasons for underreporting can be summed up as:

  1. Workers and/or leadership don’t fully appreciate the importance of reporting.
  2. There is a fear of some form that de-motivates them, or
  3. The reporting procedure is problematic, traumatic or otherwise ineffective. 

This article will look at WHS incident reporting procedures. We'll consider some individual elements that make for effective and efficient reporting procedures.

Why WHS Reporting Matters

Back in November, we looked at "WHS Reports and the Challenge of Underreporting". Based on research and statistical analysis, we learnt that approximately 31% of Australian workers do not always report incidents and injuries, and that this non-conformance statistic is 6% higher than the international average. 

We have a problem.

For an organisation of 300 people, this means an average of 284 incidents are NOT being reported every year. If 5% of those WHS incident reporting failures resulted in a significant injury, and just half of one per cent (0.5%) resulted in death:

  • 14(approx.) workers would be injured, 
  • One worker would be killed,
  • Significant production time would be lost, 
  • Fines and increased WorkSafe inspections would be likely, and 
  • A variety of commercial reputation, insurance and tendering realities would be likely. 

The bottom line? WHS incident reporting matters!

Who is Responsible for WHS Incident Reporting?

In that same article, we also learnt that "any person at the workplace" is responsible. All persons are required to protect the health and safety of themselves and others. Also, as far as the person is reasonably able, they must comply with any reasonable instruction to comply with WHS legislation. 

WHS incident reporting procedure and injury reporting requirements MUST be met. 

All grey areas have been clarified. All wiggle room has been eliminated. 

Engineering a User-Friendly WHS Incident Reporting Procedure

In pursuit of the hum, and as a specialist supplier, Occupational Safety Solutions provides legislative compliant, flexible and effective WHS reporting resources. They are:

  1. Easy to complete,
  2. Facilitate accuracy,
  3. Encourage thoroughness, 
  4. Reduce underreporting,
  5. Reduce error propensity, and
  6. Provide both structure and flexibility.

We design them that way because your WHS incident reporting procedures need to be as user-friendly as possible. 

We’ll consider a range of products, and then show you how these resources either:

  • Define big-picture purposes, 
  • Stipulate procedures, 
  • Enable reporting, 
  • Guide and empower effective investigation, and/or 
  • Make corrective action not only likely but effective.

The Nuts and Bolts of a Reporting Procedure

We've sequenced our look at these reporting procedures from the big picture level to the detailed view. We look at a policy first, through a procedural lens, then reporting, the followup investigation(s), and finally, the registers that record the procedures and conclusions that have taken place. 

The products we will look at include:

Viewing WHS Procedures From Higher Altitude

For those who understand things better when they know where the pieces fit, a quick word of explanation: though we're going to start at a policy level, we can go higher. Business, project or site-specific plans are also available. For example, there are six different Management Plan templates and a range of WHS Management Systems. If the bigger picture helps, simply follow those links.

It's also worth giving special mention to our Site Safety Forms Pack, which includes the most commonly used templates for managing site safety. At less than $200 (at time of publishing) it also represents a 50% saving on the forms if you were to purchase them individually. 

Whether you're after a big picture or a more detailed view, call 1800 304 336, and we're happy to provide clarity and swift solutions. 

Okay. That’s the drone view. Let’s fly lower.

Working Parts of the WHS Incident Reporting Procedure hum

Your policy is the primary driver of your WHS Incident reporting procedure. These procedures make policies a reality by bridging the gap between what is desired and the often less than ideal circumstances that must be worked with. If procedures are the 'how', then your policy is the 'what'.  

Your WHS Policy 

The Incident and Injury Management Policy is (currently) a two-page document. It explains the scope, processes and broad responsibilities for injury and incident response. It also provides the larger framework in which individual procedures reside.

The policy document clarifies what information must be provided and what steps must be taken when incident, accident and injury reporting occurs. It also details the steps that must be taken in the immediate and longer-term. Examples of responsibilities include making workers compensation claims, providing workers with suitable duties during their recovery, investigating causes, and implementing controls to prevent a reoccurrence. 

Your Accident and Incident Reporting Procedures

When we move from policy to procedure, we step down into detail - but not cumbersome complexity. 

At four and five pages (consecutively), our Incident and Injury Management Procedures and Risk Management Procedure templates are designed for both ease and effectiveness. 

These Risk Management Procedures deal with:

  • Hazards, 
  • Associated risks, 
  • Risk assessments, and 
  • Responses for risk control. 

When designing your WHS workplace procedures and safe work method statements (SWMS), these are both systematic and essential resources.

WHS Incident Reporting Documentation

When it comes to the actual reports, there are two which are worthy of particular focus here:

  1. The Incident and Injury Report Form, and 
  2. The Non-Conformance Report Form

The Incident and Injury Report Form is a two-page WHS incident reporting tool. It empowers you to quickly and painlessly grab the vital information from core persons and witnesses. Designed to help you gather a lot of information swiftly, these reports should be filled in as soon as practicably possible after the incident or injury takes place.

The information garnered is used to:

  1. Assess the incident or injury itself, 
  2. Investigate and respond to hazards not sufficiently controlled, 
  3. Identify whatever procedural adjustments might be necessary, 
  4. Support relevant return to work and insurance processes, and
  5. Provide verifiable evidence of worker negligence (where it exists).    

The Non-Conformance Report Form is an excellent tool for providing clarity and accountability. It also empowers your exercise of due diligence as a PCBU or PCBU officer. When issued to businesses or subcontractors, these forms enable you to stipulate where project or legal requirements are not being met. 

Please note: While this form is currently optional as a WHS incident reporting procedure, under the incoming ISO 45001 standards, EVERY event is to be treated as a non-conformance. Therefore, if you're not already using Non-Conformance Reports, consider introducing them to establish new routines and procedures.

Investigating a Reported WHS Incident 

Even with safe work practices in place, perfection is impossible. Why so? Because there are dynamic processes and unpredictable people involved. Wherever these are found, there are always going to be non-compliances and complications. Safety really is an ongoing challenge that never goes away.

That fact acknowledged, accidents and injuries can be reduced, and effective investigations and follow ups are pivotal in making that happen.

Our Incident and Injury Investigation Form is a short two-page template. It includes investigative prompts to help you assess what went wrong, as well as how you might prevent a repeat event.

Like all our templated resources, this incident investigation form is:

  • User friendly,
  • Instant download,
  • Fully editable MS Word format, and
  • Your logo can be added.

As an integral part of your WHS incident reporting procedure, this form is supported by (at least) eight different peripheral templates, is included in our WHS Management System, and can be purchased and used individually.

WHS Registers and Corrective Actions

After initial recording and investigations occur, the next procedural step is to ensure a secure and useful record is maintained, and corrective actions are taken. The first step (maintaining a register) helps you identify and respond to trends and weaknesses in policy or procedure. The second step (corrective action) minimises repeat incidents.

Registers and corrective actions are also essential when your due diligence is being investigated or auditing for improvement. 

The Incident and Injury Register provides a summary of these events in your workplace. 

The Corrective Action Register records your response to non-conformances, complaints, incidents, injuries or suggestions. It enables you to respond and record these responses in a thorough and verifiable way. The easy to use layout includes:

  • Corrective action categories, 
  • Reasons, 
  • Descriptors,
  • Immediate action responses, 
  • Root cause analysis, 
  • Long term objectives, and 
  • Space for comments on each corrective action.

Both registers are, of course, available separately and are also included in our WHS Management System.

A Final hum

When working to improve WHS reporting rates, we need to factor in obligations, responsibilities, human inconsistencies and other variable elements. There's a lot to consider! We've shown and evaluated the component resources that help you do that. This was by no means an exhaustive list, but everything mentioned here is essential. When you put your WHS incident reporting procedure together, you'll need them all.

If you have questions or prefer to make purchases over the phone, call on 1800 304 336 for a quick response. Alternatively, simply follow any of the links provided or request a callback.

A hum really is attainable!


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