Unreported accidents can cost lives

By Maria Hadlow24 April 2012

Janet Cox of Perry Scott Nash, health and safety consultants.

Janet Cox of Perry Scott Nash, health and safety consultants.

UK health and safety consultants, Perry Scott Nash (PSN), is warning that unreported accidents in the workplace could lead to serious injury or the loss of life. PSN is encouraging companies to report incidents to the correct authorities, but in addition you can report accidents involving MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms) to IPAF (International Powered Access Federation), which is compiling data with the aim of reducing accidents.

According to a report by the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE), last year there were 200000 cases of self-reported injuries leading to absence from work for more than three days, with fatal injuries numbering 171 cases.

As much as the headlines figures are cause for concern, Janet Cox of PSN, says it's the underlying issues that should be focused on, "One of the great tragedies of accidents in the workplace is the ability to have avoided them. Rarely are accidents unavoidable and in a large number of cases, they've occurred because employers have failed to either train staff correctly, or worse still, have ignored the warning signs. These warning signs can come in various forms, however it's important to realise that often serious accidents are preceded with similar ones on a lesser scale meaning that the analysis of reported accidents and the insistence to ensure that all accidents are reported can save lives. Get the reporting of accidents right and instantly you have a detailed system that should, if correctly implemented, act as an early warning system to avoid more serious accidents."

IPAF began its campaign to encourage all member companies - manufacturers, rental companies, contractors and users - to report any MEWP accidents or incidents at the beginning of the year..

In this first phase IPAF is calling for reports of any known serious accidents and fatalities involving MEWPs in the UK and any known fatalities involving MEWPs worldwide.

The project will enable IPAF to build a comprehensive record of known MEWP incidents and store them in one location in a common format - something which does not exist currently.

Having completed its first quarter of collecting accident data IPAF was aware of seven fatalities involving MEWPs in the first three months: six in North America and one in Australia. IPAF understands that these recorded incidents are not exhaustive, but this is the start of a process, which will, over time, help the industry identify trends and prioritise remedial action.

Of the seven reported accidents two involved scissors, one a self propelled boom one was unknown and the others truck mounted platforms. Three deaths were the result of the platform overturning (two scissors and the "unknown"); two were caused by electrocution from a boom and a truck mount and the others were due to non-specific technical issues.

Ms Cox said, "Accidents happen - fact. It's what we do to limit them, avoid them and learn from them that separates the good employers from the bad." PSN advises companies to: review their accident reporting procedure; ensure the data is analysed and acted upon and remind staff of the importance of reporting accidents, no matter how trivial in their eyes.

If there has been an incident involving a MEWP at your workplace or involving your machines, you can report it at www.ipaf.org/accident.

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