The Importance of Maintaining Records for Slips, Trips and Fall Incidents

In Australia, slips, trips and falls result in thousands of preventable injuries, with the most common ones being cuts, fractures and dislocations, bruises and musculoskeletal injuries.

According to Safe Work Australia, between 2003 and 2015, slips, trips and falls:
  • attributed to 23% of serious claims
  • accounted for the death of 286 workers
  • were caused by environmental factors 56% of the time.

It's helpful to first outline what each term means:

  • Slips - results from when your foot loses traction with the ground surface. Typically occurs due to inappropriate footwear or walking on slippery floor surfaces that are wet, highly polished or greasy.
  • Trips - happens when you catch your foot on a surface or object. Trips usually occurs when people are unable to see low obstacles, including loose mats, open drawers, electrical cables and uneven flooring.
  • Falls - occurs from a trip or slip but many happen during falls from low heights, including stairs and curbs, and falling into a ditch or water.

To assist in defending against these claims, many organisations have installed video cameras in strategic locations to capture slip, trip and fall accidents. The video recording helps business in assessing the incident and coming to a determination on whether there was fault.

These claims particularly impact retailers, especially for supermarkets and department stores. 

Videos are key witness to the claims process. Check out below some tips for video use and retention that results in successful outcomes.

It's All in the Timing

It’s critical to secure the video as soon as there is an established claim. This can be a challenge in circumstances were the claimant did not report at the time of the accident. Also, there may be storage limitations, or older footage may be erased from the database.

Establish claim handler protocols for the speed at which they need to obtain the video based on the severity of the injury.

An example of a preservation timeline where incidents requiring video footage are grouped into three categories: 

Red: Completion Timeline 24-72 Hours
  • Any injury that would be classified as severe
  • Any fatality
  • Customer assault
  • Late notice claims or situations where video is in imminent danger of being deleted
Yellow: Completion Timeline 3-7 Days
  • Any moderate injury
  • Moderate to severe property damage
  • Cases of potential fraud for any coverage category
  • Attorney representation letters and preservation requests
  • Allegations of false arrest
  • Invasion of privacy claims
  • Allegation employee bumped into customer
Green: Completion Timeline 7-14 days
  • Minor injuries
  • Medical emergencies (such as heart attack, seizure, syncope)

These categories are a guide but may need to change depending on the organisation's requirements and established processes.

Don't Stop the Clock and Maintain Records

If possible, give claim handlers direct access to the business or their video vendor. This will smooth the process of obtaining the video. 

It's also important to ensure that all incident reports and actions undertaken are recorded, including maintenance records of equipment and tools as well as training activities.

Video Footage

  • Maintain consistent video footage standards and ensure claims administrators understand them. Should they anticipate the footage will capture the full shopping episode? Will it be the entire shopping experience or just 10 min before and 10 min after the alleged accident?
  • How many camera angles are captured, location of cameras and how long will the video be stored? Who is the best point of contact, in the event there is a question about the footage?
  • If your organisation gets new equipment be sure your claim handlers are aware and trained on the new equipment’s capabilities.
  • If these standards are consistent across all locations, ask your Account Manager to share these guidelines in your client service instructions.
  • Understand video surveillance laws and whether or not the video has to be shared with a customer who demands to see it; strategise with your claim administrator on when and if you are required share the video with the customer or their attorney at any point in the claim.

Time Keeps on Ticking

Set specific and agreed deadlines for review of the footage upon receipt to ensure it is the correct video, and to address any issues with the content that will prevent the use of it in the ongoing investigation.

Provide training to claim handlers and loss control agents on how to assess video footage for making accurate liability assessments.

  • Ensure there is proper storage on the third-party administrator’s system and requirements for when video footage can be erased or overwritten.
  • Establish strict guidelines for chain of evidence

As technology becomes more sophisticated and more affordable, video footage of an accident will be more prevalent in organisations. What will not change? The need to partner with a claim’s administrator to ensure all parties know how to handle this critical record. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Preventing Slips and Trips at Work - Checklist

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