Health and safety

Handling of accidents

An accident at work is considered to be a sudden event caused by an external cause resulting in injury or death, which occurred in connection with the employee’s performance of his/her duties for the employer or the instructions of his/her superiors, and while the employee was at the employer’s disposal on the way between the employer’s premises and the place of performance of his/her duty resulting from the employment relationship.

The manner of post-accident proceedings and establishing the circumstances and causes of accidents, as well as the manner of documenting them, is set out in the Labour Code Act of 26.06.1974 (consolidated text, Journal of Laws 2014, item 1502) and the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 1 July 2009 on establishing the circumstances and causes of accidents at work (Journal of Laws 2009, No. 105, item 870).

A worker who is injured in an accident, if his or her state of health so permits, should immediately notify his or her supervisor of the accident. The same obligation applies to any employee who notices an accident. This accident reporting regulation is intended to ensure that the employer takes appropriate action as soon as possible.

In the event of an accident at work, the employer is obliged to:

  • take appropriate action to eliminate or reduce the risk,
  • provide first-aid to those affected,
  • immediately notify the competent district labour inspector and the public prosecutor of a fatal, serious or collective accident at work, and of any other work-related accident with the above-mentioned consequences, if it can be considered an accident at work,
  • establish the circumstances and causes of the accident and draw up the required documentation,
  • take appropriate measures to prevent similar accidents.

Until the circumstances and causes of an accident at work have been established, it is the employer’s responsibility to secure the site of the accident in such a way as to exclude:

  • allowing unauthorised persons to enter the accident site,
  • starting up machinery and other technical equipment which has been stopped as a result of an accident without the necessary need for it,
  • repositioning of machinery and other technical equipment as well as any other object which has caused the accident or which will enable the circumstances of the accident to be re-established.

Emergency measures are the first actions to be taken at the scene of an accident, the nature and extent of which depend on the condition of the victim and the circumstances of the accident. They are activities aimed at keeping the victim alive and preventing the accident from spreading.

Ad hoc activities include:

  • life-saving activities:
    1. support of basic vital functions (respiration, heart rate and circulation),
    2. stopping haemorrhages,
    3. prevention of shock,
  • placing the victim in a position appropriate to their condition,
  • evacuation of the victim from the area of danger (if possible),
  • securing the accident scene.

In the case of accidents where the victim has suffered minor injuries, there are no ad hoc activities other than assessing the victim’s condition and securing the accident scene.

Calling for help means both directly notifying the relevant emergency services and also notifying a supervisor. The call for help must be made in such a way that the injured person is not left unattended for a moment.

The accident report should primarily contain the following information:

  • venue,
  • number of victims,
  • the nature of their injuries,
  • first-aid applied,
  • information on the specialist equipment required,
  • the name of the person calling and a contact telephone number for the person being called,
  • the route to the accident site.

The obligation to notify the competent district labour inspector and the public prosecutor applies to fatal, serious and collective accidents at work, as well as to any other accident with such consequences that is work-related, if it can be considered an accident at work.

The circumstances and causes of the accident are determined by an accident team appointed by the employer and consisting of the employer or the employee engaged in other work and the social labour inspector. Within no more than 14 days from the date of receiving notice of the accident, the accident team shall prepare an accident report, the template of which is specified in the Regulation of the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy on the template of the protocol for establishing the circumstances and causes of an accident at work of 24 May 2019. (Journal of Laws of 2019, item 1071). The employer is obliged to keep a register of accidents at work and store the protocol for establishing the circumstances and causes of an accident together with other post-accident documentation for 10 years.

If the post-accident report shows that the event in question has been recognised as an accident at work, then after the end of treatment and rehabilitation, this document is the basis for the injured party to apply for compensation benefits. After receiving the application, the employer is obliged to complete the documentation necessary to determine the damage to the insured’s health caused by the accident at work, and then forward the application together with the complete documentation to the unit of the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) with jurisdiction over the insured’s place of residence.

The employer is not obliged to inform the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) of every occupational accident occurring on the farm, but is only obliged to forward the employee’s request there together with the post-accident documentation in case the employee submits such a request. The employer shall immediately notify the competent district labour inspector and the public prosecutor of a fatal, serious or collective accident at work.

A farmer carrying out an agricultural activity personally and on his own account, on a farm that he owns, is subject to insurance with the KRUS. If an accident occurs at agricultural work, it should be reported to the nearest KRUS field office as soon as possible, without undue delay, but no later than 6 months from the date of its occurrence. The injured person or the person reporting the accident should secure the place and objects related to the accident, make available the place and objects related to the accident, indicate witnesses to the accident, provide the documentation of the treatment in his/her possession, provide information and comprehensive assistance to the KRUS (Agricultural Social Insurance Fund) employee conducting the investigation of the circumstances and causes of the accident. The findings are used to draw up an accident report by a KRUS employee, which is the basis for recognition or non-recognition of the accident as an accident at agricultural work and possible granting of compensation benefits.