Whether you are related to the person or close to them somehow, suffering a sudden loss can be a tragic experience. The impact of a workplace death can not be ignored. We bond with colleagues and see them nearly every day, often more than our own family! Therefore, the death of a colleague can affect you in so many ways.
If a death occurs at work, the experience can feel even more disturbing and can strongly affect you emotionally and disrupt your day-to-day work life. Fatal accidents at work, in particular, can make you question whether you should have done more or invoke fear in colleagues that the same could happen to them. Most importantly, as an employer, you must take steps to keep people safe and prevent accidents. However, whether through negligence or unavoidable circumstances, sometimes fatal accidents sadly happen. If someone does die at work, there are duties that you should carry out as an employer.
Fatal Accident Claims is a specialist solicitor firm that handles a wide range of personal injury compensation claims. One of the critical services is working with families who have lost a loved one due to a fatal workplace accident. The firm helps families by providing support and advice and pursuing compensation claims. Fatal Accident Claims will walk us through what steps you should take if an employee dies and how you can prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.
As soon as an accident occurs, whether the death has been confirmed or not, you should ensure that emergency services are notified right away, and first aid is issued. It’s also critical to eliminate the cause of the accident, such as switching off equipment or informing staff to stop carrying out similar tasks. In the UK, you will need to report the accident to the Health and Safety Executive, and a written report must be received within ten days.
Next up, you should contact the family, remembering to show compassion and sympathy. The family will be in grief, and as the death happened in your workplace, they may show signs of anger and frustration. Make sure that you keep your cool, offer sympathetic wishes, and explain how you can support them. This is not the stage to burden them with formalities such as recovering personal belongings or routine employee termination procedures. You may wish to send them flowers or a book of condolence with messages from fellow employees.
After you’ve been in touch with the family, it’s time to let your employees know. While some may already know the accident, you should reach out to the whole team, even if they didn’t know the employee. Letting people know the facts is better than allowing rumours to spread. Showing compassion, start by telling those closest to the deceased in person. It’s recommended that you offer counselling and any other support they may need, such as time off work. You should allay any concerns people have and make it clear that you will do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again.
You will need to consider how the death affects your business in the interim. You may be able to continue operating as standard, or you may need to shift employees around to cover the deceased’s duties. Another option is to look for a short-term replacement via a recruitment agency while you take time to find a permanent solution.
When the dust is settled, you can reach out to the family to discuss funeral arrangements and any assistance that you can offer. Employees may also wish to pay their respects, so discuss whether this will be possible with the family. If it is, provide staff with time off to attend the funeral. You can also discuss any personal belongings in your possession and how best to return them.
Finally, it’s time to proceed with the formalities in officially terminating the deceased as an employee at your company. This may include wiping computers, revoking security access and collecting work property from their home. You will also need confirmation on who to send the final wage, pension and other benefits to. Usually, this will be the deceased’s estate if one is setup, or another personal representative.
After a death has happened and all affairs have been taken care of, you need to take action to show employees that you value their health, safety and wellbeing. An impartial person should investigate the cause of death and identify what measures you can take to prevent it from happening again. This section will talk about some of the best ways to avoid a workplace accident, which should be a priority whether or not an accident has occurred.
If you’re reading this article, you might think that it’s improbable an accident will happen in your workplace. However, this type of complacent thinking is what can lead to accidents. Accidents can occur in any environment. While some sectors are much more dangerous, such as construction and farming, accidents can happen anywhere. Even commercial offices, which appear safe, have unique hazards. The most common workplace accidents include slips and trips, overexertion, equipment malfunction or misuse, and vehicle-related incidents.
If you haven’t already, complete a risk assessment. This report should assess all potential risks to your worker’s health and safety. You should consider what steps are in place to eliminate or mitigate risks and what additional measures are needed. Employees should be notified of these risks and understand their responsibilities in keeping themselves and others safe.
Ensure that your business has clear signage showing hazards, such as no-smoking areas. If the floor is wet and slippery, a temporarily sign should be installed. Any spills must be cleaned immediately to prevent people from slipping. Exposed wires and other objects should also be dealt with to prevent trips. If you work with hazardous substances such as chemicals, they should be stored safely and kept away from incompatible substances. Hazardous materials must have labels identifying their risks. Employees should always wear personal protective equipment and thoroughly wash after working with dangerous materials, especially before eating or drinking.
Your business may require specialist equipment, which can be particularly dangerous. You should make sure that only trained and qualified personnel use the equipment, and supervision is in place if required. Equipment must be inspected thoroughly regularly to identify faults and ensure it is in good working condition.