Employers unprepared for accident investigation law

Employers are unprepared for new legislation requiring them to investigate
the causes of work-related accidents and ill-health, the Health and Safety
executive has warned.

Many do not have adequate procedures for assessing the causes of workplace
accidents and provide little or no support for investigations, according to new
research.

Companies employed a range of approaches to incident investigation from a
largely ad hoc approach to one with clear procedures and techniques.

Despite the limitations of many of the investigations examined in the study,
the vast majority of companies still considered they had a structured approach,
the researchers found.

Consultation closed earlier this month on proposals for a new duty to
investigate workplace accidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases through
changes to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

The law would also ensure that the lessons learned are taken into account
when revising risk assessments.

"Duty holders cannot rely on someone else to investigate; they must
understand why events happened and act to make sure they don’t happen
again," said Karen Clayton of the HSE’s Operations Unit.

The findings follow recent news that the number of people killed at work
rose by more than a third last year to 295, and that 56 per cent of non fatal
injuries go unreported by employers, despite a legal duty to do so.

New corporate manslaughter legislation is expected shortly which would make
individual directors of organisations personally liable for deaths due to
negligence in the workplace.

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