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An accident anywhere, including in the workplace. An industrial accident or an incident at work is an accident that occurs during working hours. Industrial accidents can cause physical and/or psychological injuries. These injuries can cause someone to be temporarily unable to perform their job. For example, consider a broken leg when working in construction. This can lead to medical expenses and loss of income.

When do you speak of a workplace accident?

It can actually occur in all types of industries. Here are some examples of workplace accidents;

  • Someone trips over loose objects in the workplace and breaks an ankle.
  • An employee experiences high workload, ending up in burnout and unavailable for an extended period of time.
  • There has been contact with moving parts of a machine, resulting in a person getting their hand stuck and being temporarily or permanently unable to use it after this.

When an accident has occurred in the workplace, it is very important for a company to learn from it. For instance, the cause should always be investigated and how it can be prevented in the future.

Dealing with workplace accidents

All employers have a duty of care to employees. This is why organisations always strive to offer the safest possible workplace.

Yet, despite all good intentions, workplace accidents can always happen. As an employer, therefore, you are automatically always responsible, or even liable? You can be, but you don’t have to be.

There are a number of ground rules that employers must comply with under the banner of “being a good employer”. Does an industrial accident happen, for example, because an employer did not comply with the duty of care? Then this employer is liable. In this case, however, the employee will have to be able to prove that there is damage, and that this damage was directly caused by the industrial accident.

There are times when the employer is not liable. For example, when:

  • …the accident did not occur during the performance of agreed work;
  • …sufficient precautions had been taken by the employer to prevent the accident;
  • …when there is intent or conscious recklessness on the part of an employee;
  • …when a third party is responsible for the accident.

Whether an industrial accident has occurred or not is often clear fairly quickly. In many cases, the consequences of a workplace accident cannot be assessed until later. Therefore, always make sure that workplace accidents are handled properly. If the right lessons are learned, future action can be improved or even prevented.

How do you learn from a workplace accident?

Providing a safe (working) environment for employees goes beyond physical safety. Setting up processes and procedures properly is also essential to achieving safety within your company. Yet maintaining a safe working environment is often more difficult in practice than in theory. A workplace accident remains reality. By learning from it now, you can continuously reduce the risk of accidents or prevent their recurrence.

Learning by analysing

The first step towards learning from an industrial accident is to ensure that all accidents are reported. Employee willingness to report has a lot of influence on how effectively you as an organisation can learn from workplace accidents. This is because a workplace accident needs to be reported in order to apply incident management in the right way. You need to know what happens, when it happens and how often it happens in order to be able to report it correctly and completely at a later stage using incident analysis. The more reported, the more accurate these reports are. You can then learn more efficiently and apply specific improvement measures.

As an organisation, you can influence willingness to report by, for example, making the reporting process as easy as possible for employees.

When an accident report is received, this report needs to be analysed to find out the cause of the incident. Preparing a cause analysis helps you generate insights and take appropriate action from them. Which steps can be taken depends on the type of industrial accident.

Learning is best done together

As an organisation, it is difficult to eliminate all risks in the workplace. However, it is wise to minimise them as much as possible. Employees, board and management share responsibility for making the workplace as safe as possible. Sharing findings from analyses can be stimulating in this. This way, everyone is aware of the latest developments.

Want to start doing this but don’t know how? Discover Zenya FLOW. By setting up improvement management with Zenya FLOW, and setting up your processes in the right way, you as an organisation are better able to extract ‘lessons learned’ from workplace accidents.

The role of Zenya

If you want to learn lessons from previous workplace accidents, it is wise to address them systematically. Not only does Zenya allow you to report workplace accidents instantly via the Zenya Capture App or a desktop computer, it also helps you to adequately address the cause of incidents. That way, you can deal with incidents when they occur, and prevent more frequent incidents in the future through better monitoring.

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