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One of my employees trapped his fingers in the store bailer recently. A cascade of actions followed the incident, as the reality of the event filled my day.
The steps to follow might seem simple, but they are important to note.
The immediate concern was of course for our employee and Jackie, my wife, phoned the emergency services and took charge of caring for the young man. An ambulance and fire engine soon arrived and our employee was taken off the hospital.
Get the accident investigated
While injuries to fingers are not a reportable accident covered by RIDDOR a piece of equipment in my store had injured an employee and I needed to know how and why this had happened – and quickly. I phoned Mark Jewell, Health & Safety Officer at East Hampshire District Council. He is part of the local authority’s Environmental Health team and has previously visited my store. Last year he inspected our Risk Assessments and safety training records.
He was at the store within an hour of my call. Once he had inspected the bailer he wanted to know who owns it, when was it last serviced, whether there was a risk assessment, had employees been trained how to use it and was the training recorded.
I rent the machine, so Mr Jewell will be talking to the company about this accident and how the machine failed to protect the user. I was able to quickly provide all the records that I was asked for and he raised no issues with them. He did however say that while I do have a Risk Assessment for the bailer that the company provided, I should have made it site specific. The second point he raised was about the bailer’s location. I am talking to our supplier about how to deal with these two issues.
Manage the story
When an ambulance and fire engine arrive at one’s premises people are bound to want to know what is going on and my employee’s accident was no exception. Until the investigation into the event was completed, my wife and I decided that we needed to limit what we, and our employees should tell any customers who asked. Initially, we told customers that there had been an accident and one of our colleagues needed treatment in hospital. We were later able to add that the injury was not as bad as was first thought. Following the brief, our store team did a great job dealing with the customer enquiries about the event.
Learn and reassess
This was a shocking experience, which thankfully my employee survived intact. He was discharged from hospital after 12 hours in A&E with severely bruised fingers. During that period I had been in regular contact with his mother to keep up to date with his condition, as I have done during the following days until he came into the store to see me. I can say that he hasn’t lost his sense of humour!
While I have a full set of Risk Assessments for my store activities and equipment, I am currently reviewing each one of them to ensure that they are still fit for purpose. The Risk Assessment for the bailer will be rewritten so that it is site specific in line with the Health & Safety Officers advice. I am sure that I will be talking to Mr Jewell over the next few weeks about this event.
There are 15 people who work for me in the store and the next round of Health & Safety training will focus on the lessons learnt from this incident.
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