ANYBODY who has experienced a serious health and safety incident knows the emotional impact can be immense, but how can employers respond to the more personal challenges raised in the aftermath of an incident?
Aside from regulatory investigations and legal proceedings arising from a safety incident, organisations have a moral responsibility to consider the needs of, and communicate with, injured workers, their families, friends and co-workers, and to show sensitivity.
Dealing with these so-called softer issues is not easy. There is no textbook on how employers should manage the relationships with people affected.
After a safety incident, it is often the case that managers and business leaders don’t know where to start when trying to navigate their way through the aftermath of incidents.
Employers in this situation want to do the right thing. They want to understand what happened and what can be done to prevent a reoccurrence. They also want to look after the people affected and provide as much support as possible.
However, there is a balance to be achieved between offering help and interfering in the private lives of those affected. It can take time for people to come to terms with what has happened and an approach to families by an employer (who they may perceive as being responsible) may not be welcome. Employers also need to be careful their good intentions do not amount to accepting legal liability for any failings. Here are some tips to help employers.
Be prepared for gossip and rumours.
Recognise that people react differently.
Be sensitive to the pressures of being a witness.
Contact relatives with care.
Ease the legal process.
Be PR savvy.
Looking after staff during difficult times is never going to be easy. Ensure your organisation behaves in a conscientious and responsible manner, striking a balance between demonstrating compassion and protecting the commercial and legal interests of the business.
:: For more information contact Anna Hart, associate in health and safety at Dickinson Dees, on 0191 279 9295.