Joe works in the warehouse. One Friday afternoon around 4 pm, he feels a sharp pain in his back while lifting a box. Shortly after, he leaves for the weekend, during which 35 cm of snow falls. Monday morning, still suffering, Joe consults his doctor. Back at work, he declares his accident to his boss. What caused his back pain? Work or a bad move with the snow shovel? Doubt can easily settle.
One morning while going into the office, Tania slips on the snow-covered doorway. She fortunately has good reflexes and doesn’t fall as she clings to the wall. She does not tell anyone. Later, a colleague who is carrying a bunch of documents, slips and falls on the ice, breaking his collarbone. Could this accident have been avoided? Probably. If Tania had mentioned to her boss that the entrance was slippery, he could have salted it. This action may have prevented the fall, hence the importance of reporting incidents, even the most insignificant ones.
Whether a shelf on the wall in your office falls and scrapes you or a hoist comes off a crane without hurting anyone, in case of an incident you should ask yourself the following questions: Am I the first person whom this has happened to? Had this incident happened a minute earlier or to someone who was not as physically fit as me, could there have been more serious consequences? If yes, document the incident on an incident report.
This approach of reporting all incidents may seem paradoxical at first glance. Will it not increase accident statistics? In fact, one of the main deterrents of accidents and occupational disease prevention is not reporting risks. It is important to involve all workers in reporting any injuries, even minor ones (scratches, cuts, etc.), any incidents where there were no consequences, and all situations in which an accident was narrowly avoided. A small cut or minor injury can lead to a more serious condition if not reported and managed appropriately. It can tell us a lot about the risk of more serious injuries, provided the circumstances are analyzed. Each event must be reported because it is the best way for the employer to be informed of the hazards and take the necessary corrective action. The employer and the supervisor should not be a hindrance in documenting an accidental event. The worker should not feel embarrassed or afraid to ask his/her supervisor to complete an investigation report. Everyone is a winner when it comes to risk prevention.
It is impossible to learn from our mistakes if incidents are not reported. When incidents are not reported, the causes are usually not corrected. It is important to keep in mind that an undeclared incident may occur again for another worker and have more serious consequences. This is what the Bird Pyramid tells us. No incident should be neglected because the more incidents there are, the greater the probability of a serious accident.