“Injuries at work” is a collective term for industrial accidents, short-term effects which are detrimental to health and work-related ailments.
Accidents at work
An accident at work is a sudden, unexpected event which causes injury and which happens in connection with work, injuring a person.
For example, an employee, supervisor or boss could fall from a roof where he is working: this constitutes an accident at work. If this person is at work when the accident happens, it does not matter what the work involves and where it happens.
If a traffic accident happens to an employee while this person is at work, this also constitutes an accident at work.
A work-related ailment is an industrial illness occurring after a fairly long time as a result of work or the conditions under which work is carried out.
This may, for example, include lung cancer where it has been ascertained that the cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
In some instances, it may be difficult to define clearly what constitutes an accident and what constitutes a work-related ailment. Hearing damage following an explosion is an accident, for example, while hearing damage following long-term exposure to loud noise is a work-related ailment.
A back injury following a fall is an accident, while a back injury following long-term work in an incorrect working position is a work-related ailment.
Industrial accidents, including sudden lifting injuries, must be reported by the employer to the Working Environment Authority within nine days of the injury happening.
This obligation to report is applicable to all industrial accidents where there is at least one day of absence besides the day on which the injury happened.
When the day(s) of absence occur is not crucial. What is crucial is whether the absence is caused by the industrial accident.
Everyone else is entitled to report an accident at work. This includes the person who has been injured, or their organisation.
The Working Environment Authority must receive these reports so that it has the opportunity to investigate the accident and prevent similar accidents in future.
The National Board of Industrial Injuries and the employer’s insurance company must receive the reports so that the employee can receive compensation, where applicable.
Reports must be submitted electronically by using the EASY system belonging to the Working Environment Authority and the National Board of Industrial Injuries. Find out more about the EASY system on the Working Environment Authority website: www.at.dk
The EASY system can also be used by individual enterprises to register near-accidents and accidents without absence in connection with the enterprise’s preventive working environment work. These reports can be viewed only by the enterprise itself and require access using a digital signature.
Reporting work-related ailments
Doctors and dentists must report to the Working Environment Authority and the National Board of Industrial Injuries if they find or suspect that a person is suffering from a work-related ailment or has sustained other harmful effects at work.
Other people may also report suspected work-related ailments.
Industrial injury insurance and industrial injury compensation
The employer is obliged to take out insurance as required by law which covers the consequences of industrial injuries among employees. This insurance covers certain charges for treatment, compensation for loss of ability to work, permanent injury and compensation to next of kin.
This insurance provides cover irrespective of who is responsible for the accident or injury.
It does not cover loss of earnings or pain and suffering. As a rule, these are covered by the employer’s industrial liability insurance, which should be taken out even though it is not required by law.
Accident analysis/learning from accidents
The enterprise must systematically investigate accidents and work-related ailments in order to prevent similar injuries in future.
The working environment organisation must ensure that the causes of accidents, poisonings and damage to health and near-accidents, etc. are investigated so that arrangements can be put in place to prevent similar accidents or incidents happening. Once a year, the committee has to prepare a collective summary of accidents, poisonings and health damage within the enterprise.
The purpose of this investigation of accidents is not to define liability or blame. Instead, this method must clarify what options there are for preventing similar injuries in future.
It is often necessary to correct the place of work assessment (APV) in the light of the new knowledge gained during this analysis.
Start preventive work as quickly as possible following an accident. This gives an important signal to indicate that prevention is high on your list of priorities.
This method is divided into three stages:
- Charting of the facts.
- Investigation of the accident.
- Ensuring that preventive solutions are devised.
Charting of the facts
Collect as much information as possible on what happened, and the circumstances under which the chain of events took place.
Also remember to look at underlying causes, such as time pressure or a lack of instructions.
Start charting as quickly as possible while the incident is still fresh in people’s minds and any witnesses are still on site.
Carry out a thorough collection of facts, opinions, experiences and observations relating to the accident in question. Take photos where applicable, or draw a sketch.
Speak to all relevant individuals, such as the building management team, who may be able to shed light on underlying causes of the accident.
Think broadly in terms of charting. Back strain following a sudden injury causes by lifting may, for example, be due to the body cooling down on account of rain. This indicates – among other things – that winter covers may need to be added to the safety arrangements.
Analysis of the accident
When all essential information on the accident has been described, you can start your analysis.
Do this step by step so that you can find out both what happened and why it happened.
Remember that in the case of most accidents, there may be several causes. It is important to identify these all together as this gives you the best chances of devising preventive measures within the enterprise.
Use only the information you have collected during the charting stage.
You will often see the best results if the working environment organisation works jointly to carry out the analysis and sets aside the time necessary for the analysis.
Devising preventive solutions
Review the individual stages of the analysis in order to identify what could have prevented the accident.
Then assess all suggestions for changes to work procedures and other preventive measures, and decide which are to be implemented immediately and which are to be implemented at a later date.
Finally, decide who is responsible for implementing the preventive measures, when they have to be complete by, and how you can use the results of the investigation in your APV.
The method outlined is described on the Working Environment Authority website at www.at.dk.
The enterprise must ensure that the necessary measures are implemented in respect of fire, rescue and first aid. The enterprise must ensure, among other things:
- that it has appropriate fire equipment and rescue equipment, as well as the necessary first aid equipment for dealing with accidents, and
- that specially trained people are available to give first aid in the event of an accident.
BFA recommends that the enterprise includes these considerations in its assessments in connection with compilation of a contingency plan and in connection with the compilation of its APV. It is also recommended that the enterprise should prepare a list of people who can give first aid.