What evidence is needed when reporting an accident?

In 2016/17 alone, there were 609,000 workplace injuries* in the UK – that’s a lot of accidents. While your number one priority in the aftermath should always be the welfare of the injured party(s), it’s important to collect the right evidence – and enough of it – too.

Gathering evidence plays a pivotal part in accident reporting. First and foremost, if the accident’s reportable under RIDDOR, it’ll be needed as part of the reporting process. But it also:

  • Provides you with an audit trail if the employee makes a claim against you;
  • Gives you something to fall back on if an enforcing authority requests supporting documents during an inspection;
  • Helps you to get to the root of the accident and prevent it from happening again; and
  • Assists with the reviewal of any internal processes and risk assessments.

So, let’s take a look at some of the key pieces of evidence you need to collate after an accident.

1. The area

Take photos of where the accident happened and the surrounding area immediately after the accident, before anything can be altered. If the weather was a contributing factor to the accident (if it was raining and the employee slipped, for example) make sure you snap some photos of this too.

2. The equipment

If the accident involved any kind of machinery – this includes everything from a toaster to a forklift truck – take a picture of these too. You should take photos regardless of whether or not the equipment’s damaged.

3. The employee

It might sound unsavoury, but you should get a picture of the employee’s injury straight after too, to evidence the extent of the injury. From a covering-your-own-back perspective, this will protect you if the employee later overeggs the degree of damage.

If the employee refuses to allow a photo it goes without saying you can’t force it. Instead, just make a note of their resistance and keep it on file.

4. Storyboard it

Next, you should draw a storyboard of what happened – don’t worry we’re not expecting the inner Picasso in you to come out, stickmen will literally do. Within the storyboard, include rough measurements of the area and equipment involved in the accident.

The storyboard should be supported by a full description of the chain of events and, if the person putting the storyboard together wasn’t present, should be based on the contents of the witness’ statements – not the injured party’s recollection of events.

5. Existing practices

This one shouldn’t require you to create anything new, it’s more a case of collating existing documents – like risk assessments, method statements, safe systems of work and training – to evidence that the employee(s) knew what should have been done, and that they acknowledged their understanding and agreement of the proper process.

6. Witness statements

It’s important to gather witness statements from anyone who was in the proximity of the accident so that it’s not just your word against the injured party’s. The witness statement should be written and signed by the individual behind it.

And remember, witness statements don’t just have to be from employees. If a visitor, contractor or member of the public was around and saw what happened, they could be called upon too.

7. Medical records

If the emergency services – like the police, paramedics or fire brigade – were called on-site as a result of the accident, remember to get statements from them too.

And, make a written record of things like:

  • Did the employee go to hospital?
  • If so, what medical treatment did they receive?
  • Who administered the treatment?
  • Who took them to hospital?

8. Call on CCTV footage

If you had CCTV cameras in operation around the area of the accident, use the recordings as tangible evidence of what happened in the run-up to the accident – i.e. what caused it. As well as your witness statements, this will help to build a clear picture of what happened.

Need a hand understanding your evidence?

From RIDDOR reports and gathering evidence to dealing with enforcing authorities and reviewing risk assessments, when it comes to accident reporting, we know what we’re doing. If your business needs a hand with any area of its Health & Safety set-up, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk.

And if you’re a Citation client, remember, our Health & Safety experts are by your side from start to finish with our 24/7 advice line.

*According to the Labour Force Survey.

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