“Steve is an experienced machine operator working for a small equipment manufacturer. One day, as he is manoeuvring a piece of metal, the piece slides and gets caught in the mechanism of his machine. This causes the machine to suddenly halt which sends a sharp shock up Steve’s arm causing pain to his wrist. Steve, who is used to this situation as it has been occurring more and more frequently, simply unblocks the machine and continues his work as if nothing has happened.
In the following days, Steve feels discomfort and the pain becomes sharper but he continues to work as usual. The following week the pain becomes worse and starts to prevent him from working normally. He decides to consult a doctor who diagnoses him with a sprained wrist and torn ligaments. The doctor puts him on a work stoppage and prescribes medication and physiotherapy.
Steve wishes to make a CNESST claim however there is no trace of the incidents of the prior week and the employer, having never been made aware of the issues, casts doubt on Steve’s version of the events. As no accident declaration was ever made, no facts were gathered in order to understand the cause of the injury and to correct the situation. The employer is therefore not able to provide their version of the events to the CNESST which only has the employee’s version on which to render its decision of admissibility.
Through further investigation, the employer now discovers that there were other incidents with the same machine that were never declared by the other workers involved. The consequences could have been even greater, such as more serious injuries or a machine breakdown causing a prolonged stop in production.”
All of these elements render the management of this file more complicated, and has created greater expense to management due to the prolongation of the work stoppage, caused by the aggravation of the initial injury from a sprain to a tear, likely due to the employee continuing to work despite the pain.
Also, in the case where there is a dispute on admissibility or any other matter in this file, the information that should have been gathered at the time of the accident becomes essential if ever there is a hearing at the Administrative Labour Tribunal.
In a case such as this one, a dutifully completed register of workplace accidents/incidents would have allowed the employer to be rapidly informed of the issue, to have a complete overview of the accident/incident and to be able to identify the main safety and health risks in the workplace in order to take the necessary corrective measures.
The accident/incident register, as required by law, must be completed each time there is a workplace accident or “near-miss”, even if the employee does not miss work beyond the day of the accident. This register may be combined with the first aid register required by the regulations on minimum standards of first responders and first aid, using a single register for reporting both accidents/incidents and any first-aid treatment given to employees. It is also useful to include the follow-up on any corrective measures required to prevent similar incidents going forward, and the person they have been assigned to.
The establishment of an accident/incident register permits the employer to rapidly access all of the pertinent information, in a single document, all while allowing the company to meet their legal obligations.
While some workplace accidents may not cause the employee to immediately stop work and to make a CNESST claim, sometimes the extent of the injury is not completely felt or diagnosed for days, or even weeks, following the accident. When this happens all of the details surrounding the accident are important, which is why they must be collected and documented as soon as possible following the accident, and as not to rely on the memory of the various individuals involved.
By making this register available to all personnel and by creating awareness of the importance of using this form to declare ALL accidental events, the employer will have an excellent tool for prevention.
Finally, it is important to note that in order to ensure the usefulness of the register, it is important to keep it up-to-date and ensure a follow-up on any corrective measures required, otherwise the employees will not see the benefit of taking a few minutes to complete it and the employer will see its prevention efforts reduced to nil.
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