Serious illness, injury or death in a workplace causes trauma, loss and legal exposure. Immediate emergency responses, as awful as they can be, are just the beginning.
WHS / OHS regulators require organisations to preserve the scene of certain incidents for external investigation, which may lead to prosecutions. Senior leaders must ensure legal compliance.
Workers involved may be sparing with facts, or may exercise a "right to silence", where law permits, making system improvement difficult. Leaders may commission an "internal" investigation by a legal practitioner, the investigation and its products being privileged (i.e. legal privilege). Under these circumstances, workers are more likely to open up, identifying causal factors.
Legal privilege is not self-serving. It positions an organisation to reduce the likelihood and severity of a recurrence, as well as managing legal exposure.
Before "it" hits the fan, look at your health and safety system and control measures in place. Now may be time to consult with workers about the risk profile and adequacy of control measures.
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