Imagine this scenario:
Workers are arriving for work on a winter day, and the temperature takes a sudden drop. A worker slips on ice at the entrance of the workplace. The worker goes into work and doesn’t tell anyone about the ice. Fifteen minutes later, another worker slips on the ice, falls, and breaks their wrist. The ice is finally dealt with as the worker is being loaded into the ambulance.
This injury could have been prevented by simply reporting the “near miss” in the first place—and taking appropriate action.
Health and safety is a shared responsibility
Workplace safety in Nova Scotia is based on the Internal Responsibility System – or “IRS”. This means that everyone in the workplace shares responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. This shared responsibility takes into account each person’s authority and ability. If a person in the workplace sees a hazard and can act to eliminate it, then they must do so. If they are unable to address the hazard, then they must report it to someone who can—someone with the authority to ensure the hazard is addressed.
In the example of the icy entrance, the worker who first slipped on the ice may not have known where the salt for the ice is kept. If they couldn’t deal with it themselves, what should they have done? They should have advised either the person responsible for maintenance or their own supervisor of the icy condition of the entrance. Had this be done, the second fall may have been prevented.
When an incident or injury occurs in your workplace, investigating can give you information on the hazard or hazards that caused them, as well as insight into preventing similar incidents. Again using the example of the icy entrance, by reporting the icy surface, the maintenance person or team is made aware of the hazard and can take preventative steps to ensure that it doesn’t cause another slip or fall. For example, a preventative measure could be to keep a bucket of salt near the entrance where everyone can find it and ask everyone who notices slippery conditions to take a moment to spread salt.
- Investigate incidents
- Conducting an effective investigation