Maintaining an Incident Register for Continuous Improvement of Workplace Safety
In 2019, there were 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by enterprises, and 888,220 of these workers had to miss at least one day of work, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This no doubt is an inconvenience for both the employer and the employee, but it is also an indirect cost in terms of loss of productivity. As the degree of injury severity goes up, so do the direct and indirect costs, including medical insurance, expenses, and in some cases, even litigation. Sometimes it will involve replacing the worker, which will add to the recruitment and training costs as well.
Therefore, in its own best interests an enterprise should have processes in place:
- To prevent the occurrence of incidents
- To remedy it quickly if one were to occur despite all precautions
- To maintain and update an incident register
Maintaining a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses for at least five years is mandated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Registration) for businesses with more than 10 employees and in industries with high hazard levels. Every February to April, employers must post a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded the previous year and provide copies of the records to present and former employees or their representatives.
Businesses with high hazard levels are expected to record injuries that are:
- Work-related, or
- A pre-existing condition that was aggravated by workplace events
Some of the other injuries that need to be recorded include:
- Cause death
- Require the employee to take time off work
- Make it difficult to work or leads to a transfer to a new job
- Require medical treatment beyond First Aid
- Cause loss of consciousness
- Inflict severe injury or illness attributed to work by healthcare personnel
- Lead to work-related mental illness
- Cause injuries from contaminated needles or sharp objects
- Cause work-related tuberculosis
- Cause a worker to be removed from work under the provisions of an OSHA standard (ex: lead exposure)
- Caused when commuting to and from work
While such a register helps OSHA evaluate workplace risks and industry hazards, it is important not only from a compliance perspective and not only in high-hazard industries. An incident register can help employers and workers analyze the patterns that trigger the incidents and address recurring problems to prevent future accidents.
In fact, one of the OSHA mandates is that businesses should utilize their employees by establishing a reporting system and training them to use it. This ensures employee participation and a higher level of reporting, provided that as an employer you do your duty of taking timely action and bringing it to closure.
Benefits of Incident Register
Proactive prevention of incidents can help businesses not only make the workplace safer but benefit from improved productivity, lower costs and greater efficiency. The incident register acts as a source of easily retrievable data that can be shared with relevant authorities with greater consistency and continuity. Not only does it help demonstrate compliance but also empowers health and safety leaders to identify patterns and effect continuous improvement. Senior managers get visibility into health and safety performance and during inspections and audits, sharing incident-related documents becomes easier.
In brief, an Incident Register helps with the following:
- Alerts the employer and the employees about the potential risks so that they can implement corrective and preventive actions. The risks could include machinery/equipment that need preventive maintenance, insufficient safety controls, equipment and training that need to be addressed and near misses that need prompt action.
- Continuous improvement becomes possible due to visibility into potential risk areas and gaps that need to be addressed immediately. Setting up metrics and measures based on this can help mitigate risks better.
- Risks can be prioritized such that the crucial ones do not get missed out. Sometimes, we tend to react to situations and near misses may go unnoticed or unreported. This may turn out to be a ticking time bomb unless defused on time. By encouraging employees to report all major and minor incidents, the safety leader can set up mitigative processes based on the risk level or the reported incidents.
Automating Incident Register Management
Manually reporting and registering incidents can be challenging to retrieve and gain actionable insights. An automated EHS solution built on Salesforce.com from ComplianceQuest is a robust, scalable, and modular software that businesses can use for incident management as well as maintaining a register.
Some of the benefits of the ComplianceQuest EHS solution include:
- Alignment with OSHA reporting and compliance requirements as it enables automatic submission of OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 incident forms electronically with a couple of clicks.
- Facilitating reporting and tracking of any unplanned events that did not immediately result in an injury or damage. It also gives you all the data you need to ensure that a near miss never becomes an incident.
ComplianceQuest’s EHS allows tracking, managing, and reporting any incident from the time of entry to completion. This is a cost- and time-effective solution to help you meet your compliance obligations as well as create a culture of safety in your organization by enabling the maintenance of a record of all incidents.
For more information on the Incident Management feature of CQ EHS solution, visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/health-and-safety-incident-management-software/