Investigation by the ESPP into occupational accidents with unfitness for work of four days or more with employers of companies in groups C and D

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    1. How can the external service for prevention and protection at work (ESPP) be informed?
    2. How soon must accidents be investigated?
    3. How are accidents dealt with if they took place outside the employer's company?


    For these companies, the legislator wanted the external service to take over the tasks of the internal service for prevention and protection at work, as stipulated in Article II.1-6 §1, 1° of the Code on Well-being at Work.

    The aim of investigating occupational accidents is to:

    • determine the preventive measures for preventing a recurrence of a similar accident;
    • detect identical risks in other workplaces in the business and take the appropriate measures to eliminate them or reduce them to an acceptable level.

    Furthermore, in view of the result of the investigation, the employer must adapt their global plan and annual action plan if necessary.

    It is therefore vitally important that the external service is notified immediately, by every appropriate technological means, of every occupational accident that must be investigated by this service based on the regulatory provisions. It is also recommended to confirm this notification in writing.

    This obligation lies in principle with the employer. However, it is advisable to entrust this task to the Prevention Advisor of the internal service, given their role as a coordinator, if the external service has to be contacted to perform certain tasks.

    The modalities for the notification of this information must be stipulated in the contract between the employer and the external service (Article II.3-13).

    With regard to the investigation of these occupational accidents, the following regulatory provisions should be taken into account:

    1. the internal service must be involved in studying the factors that influence the occurrence of the accidents or incidents and in studying the causes of any accident that led to an unfitness for work (Article II.1-4, second paragraph, 2°).
    2. The members of the line management are involved in implementing the employer's policy on the well-being of workers while carrying out their work. As such, they investigate accidents and incidents that occur in the workplace and propose measures to prevent such accidents and incidents (Article I.2-11, second paragraph, 2°).
    3. The internal service is always responsible for the following tasks when the external service is contacted:
      • organising collaboration with the external service;
      • coordinating with the external service by providing it with all the information it needs to complete its work;
      • in the context of risk assessment, working with the external service by supporting the external service Prevention Advisor during workplace visits, assisting him in the investigation of the causes of occupational accidents and occupational diseases and when drawing up inventories (Article II.1-11, 1°, 2° and 3°).

    We can conclude from the above that the internal service, in collaboration with the external service, must develop a strategy that allows the investigation of occupational accidents as soon as possible.

    It is essential to create a scenario in which the tasks are divided between the two services and which involves the reporting line.

    This scenario will include the following points as a minimum:

    1. the method of informing the external service in the event of an occupational accident;
    2. the appointment of the person or service responsible for the initial observations;
    3. the nature of the initial information to be provided;
    4. the deadlines for providing the collected information to the external service;
    5. if the initial findings show that safety equipment of machines did not function or function poorly, or if technical, mechanical defects were found, the external service must start the on-site investigation within three days;
    6. the definition of the maximum deadline for finalising the investigation of an occupational accident; this deadline may not be more than three months;
    7. the procedure to be followed in the event of an occupational accident outside the business.