The ambulance is at the gate, Boss – now what should I do?

This is the nightmare scenario for every company and every manager working in areas such as construction, warehousing, engineering - indeed in any sector where medium to high risk activities are being carried out.


Something has gone wrong; an employee has been injured (or maybe even killed); and somebody from management has got to start sorting out the mess. You're the manager everybody’s looking at, but where do you begin?

As with other emergency situations, such as fire, it's vital that you've already considered your options and drawn up your response plan BEFORE things go wrong (trying to develop an emergency plan as the crisis unfolds is never a good idea!) Having a plan gives you a framework in which to operate and allows you to keep control of things rather than letting matters descend into chaos.

Of course, developing emergency plans can appear to be difficult. It's never pleasant to think about people being hurt or killed, and that emotion is understandable, but just because a task is unpleasant doesn't mean you can simply shy away from it. Running a successful company in a responsible way involves facing difficult problems head on and then dealing with them effectively. And safety management - accident response planning - is no exception to this general rule.

One challenge which needs to be overcome is the perception that managing a serious accident is somehow impossible. Certainly there could well be a range of issues all needing to be handled at the same time, from dealing with the casualty to making the area safe to thinking about potential legal repercussions to .... the list can seem endless. But managing things is not impossible if you have a carefully designed plan to guide you.

The first step in designing any response plan is for senior managers to gain an understanding of what is involved, and this is achieved by a programme which takes them logically through the whole business of accident scene management - from an overview of the legal framework involved, through the collection of evidence which could be vital in building the company's defence to any health & safety charges, to techniques for taking witness statements and analysing the evidence.

This understanding can be provided by means of a suitable training course, and can then be reinforced by further workshop sessions at which the managers can discuss – in complete confidence – exactly how they can design a response plan which meets precisely the needs of their organisation.

If you feel your organisation could benefit from such training and workshop programmes then please contact BoardPlus to set up an initial, free – and confidential – discussion of your needs.

About the Author

andy-farrallAndy has his own health & safety practice, Management & Safety Training Ltd, and is a highly experienced consultant and trainer (including accreditation with NEBOSH both as a tutor and examiner). He is an accredited accident investigator and is qualified in both the health & safety and training sectors.

A Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (FIIRSM), a chartered safety & health practitioner (CMIOSH) and a member of the UK Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), he has a proven track record in fields as diverse as accident investigation, lone worker safety, construction safety, and health & safety training.

Prior to moving into the field of health & safety management he was a specialist investigator with two élite UK law enforcement agencies (including taking responsibility for the management of complex international fraud enquiries).