An emergency preparedness plan can help maintain control during an emergency and help the injured employee receive the right level of care as quickly as possible. Call the non-emergency phone number for the local fire and ambulance service to set up a pre-planning meeting at the job site to establish:
- who will respond (a town, county, or private service);
- how long the response will take;
- how emergency personnel will access and find the job site;
- where to send an employee to meet and direct responders to the accident site;
- what the local resources are (Can they rescue an employee who fell and may be hanging from a lanyard? Will they do a confined space rescue?); and
- where will the injured employee be taken?
Employees at the job site should be given instructions on what to do should an accident occur and why all accidents need to be reported.
When an accident occurs, there is often confusion about what happened and what steps need to be taken. An emergency plan can help foremen and supervisors on the job site act quickly when an employee is injured. Management should identify emergency resources in advance and have easy access to that contact information. Proper documentation will help communicate with emergency personnel and assist in investigating the cause of the accident.
Workers need to report all injuries, even if the injury does not involve a visit to a hospital or clinic. The company may offer to schedule a physician appointment to promote prompt medical attention. In states that allow employee direction, the company may assist the injured employee in selecting a physician or healthcare facility within the network.
The injured worker’s immediate supervisor should contact the injured employee the next day to find out if the pain from the injury persists or if they have a limited range of motion.
When a worker needs immediate medical attention for a minor injury, appoint someone to drive the injured worker to a medical provider. More seriously injured employees will need an ambulance to transport them to the closest hospital emergency room.
If the injured employee needs to be transported by ambulance, provide injury details and directions to the site of where the injured person is located. Relay as much information as possible, including the number injured, types of injuries and their extent. Assign someone to meet the ambulance and guide it directly to the injury scene. Ensure clear access for the ambulance in advance to avoid delaying medical care. If an injured person requires a helicopter medivac, use a GPS to determine the geo coordinates. This may be necessary in remote areas where there are few reference points or when visibility is limited.
It is important to take immediate remedial action on issues, such as isolating electrical power sources. Check cell phone signal strength, as there could be service blackout areas. If the incident occurred in a remote area with weak reception, travel away from the injury site to find a strong signal.
It is important to:
- stay calm to provide assurance to the injured worker;
- maintain order;
- call emergency services and assign tasks to control the emergency sources, protect the injured and preserve the accident scene for investigation later;
- administer first aid and direct workers to a safe location;
- maintain contact with emergency services, management and utilities; and
- direct emergency services to the accident scene and explain ongoing or potential hazards.
Checklist of Investigation Equipment
- Clipboard, pen and paper (square or graph paper is recommended for illustrations), as well as a form to write down information about each photo taken.
- Digital recorder to dictate notes.
- Camera with a flash.
- List of emergency phone numbers (police, ambulance, hospital, doctor, etc.).
- Markers to place near objects and equipment that are photographed in order to help organize photos.
- Indelible marking pen and plastic bags.
- Incident investigation forms.
- Flashlight and extra replacement batteries.
- Roll of barrier tape.
- Radio with National Weather Alert.
- Tags for labeling equipment.
- Tape measure and a ruler (place a ruler or a coin in photograph for a size reference).
Reprinted with permission from Contractor’s Injury Management Toolbox: Managing Job Site Accidents and Injuries, CNA. CNA offers a library of Return to Work/Stay at Work resources. http://www.cna.com.