Employee fatalities: how to handle the unthinkable

Employee fatalities are something no business owner wants to even think about. But, sadly, they happen.

In 2017/18 alone, 144 employees lost their lives at work, and the main causes behind the catastrophes were:

  • Falling from height (35)
  • Being struck by a moving vehicle (26)
  • Being struck by a moving object (23)
  • Being trapped by something collapsing or overturning (16)
  • Contact with moving machinery (13).

So, what do you do when the unthinkable happens?

  1. Take control

Make sure you protect and retain the scene in the exact same state it was in when the fatality occurred, ensure you have first aiders in attendance, and call the emergency services right away.

  1. Notify the police

The police must always be informed about work-related deaths. When they arrive at the scene, clearly and accurately let them know what happened, when it happened, and where it happened.

  1. Contact the enforcing authority

In most cases, the enforcing authority will be either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), your Local Authority, or the Office of Road and Rail (ORR). As soon as is reasonably possible, you must establish contact with them and inform them of what’s happened.

It’s absolutely imperative that you’re open and honest during any discussions with the police and enforcing authorities. Downplaying what happened will only hinder your case in the long run.

  1. Inform the family

Once you’ve spoken to the police and enforcing authority, you should make contact with the individual’s family and carefully and sensitively tell them the news.

Remember to keep the family in the loop as investigations unravel, too.

  1. The investigation process

After all the conversations have been had, you should turn your attention to the investigation process, which includes things like:

  • Gathering witness statements;
  • Taking photos;
  • Collecting CCTV footage;
  • Reviewing relevant risk assessments and procedures; and
  • Completing a RIDDOR report.
  1. Call Citation

If you’re signed up to our services, you should give us a call at this point. We can support you with advice and guidance around the accident investigation process, as well as help dealing with enforcing authorities.

  1. Seek a solicitor

The penultimate point is instructing a regulatory solicitor. They’ll be able to help you when it comes to liaising with the police and enforcing authorities.

  1. Contact your insurance company

Last but not least, you’ll need to contact your insurance company. Although it’ll be the last thing on your mind at the time, they need to be in the know for the financial side of things.

GET A FREE CONSULTATION

Get in touch to organise a free audit of your business.

Although we hope you’ll never need the advice outlined in this article, if you do, we’re here for you. If you’re a Citation client, remember, we’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with our advice line.

If you’re not yet teamed up with us and would like to know more, then get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or use the form above.

Health & Safety in the news: Timber firm fined for safety breaches

A woodworking firm has been fined thousands of pounds for repeatedly failing to maintain safety guards on its machinery. What...

Read the article

On the road in the cold: safety tips for employees

Whether it’s for their commute or part of their job, if your employees are on the road, there are certain...

Read the article

Health & Safety in the news: DSEAR breach leaves worker in a coma

A Bedfordshire waste company has been sentenced after two of its employees suffered burns whilst processing flammable aerosol containers. What...

Read the article

Read more Health & Safety news You can also get these alerts by email. Read more

The consultants we work with are absolutely superb - we never have to worry about Employment Law.

Sue Anderson, Finance Director Pendle Doors

Read the customer story

The experts from Citation came in and implemented all of the legal documentation we needed to be fully compliant.

Gaynor Thomas, Business Development Manager Wilmslow Glass

Read the customer story

We've found the service as a whole, extremely valuable; I have even recommended business contacts and friends in the past who are also now happy clients of Citation.

John Cook, Transport Manager Wrings Transport

Read the customer story

Free Resources

Browse our series of free guides and resources on common issues our clients face, prepared by our in-house experts

See what's new

Pop in your details and we'll call you straight back

We'll get back to you as soon as we can.