A topic came up on one of my social media feeds this week about operational equipment I was preparing for a small project. Somebody asked privately about what I keep in the little tin in the middle of my photo. I told them it was an accident kit and the reply I got was ????. Followed by what’s in an accident kit? So I said I’d do a quick blog post about mine.
What’s an accident kit?
An accident kit is a small kit that I’ve always kept in my work bag with a few pieces of kit to deal with the aftermath of an accident. The concept behind it is based around the minor car accident kits that can be bought in most motor factors to record small traffic accidents. It’s something I’ve always had and have just added stuff to as I needed it over the years.
My thoughts on accidents
My ideology around accidents and incidents is that the situation is not resolved when the casualty has been cared for medically. The situation is only resolved either when a civil claim doesn’t arise or when a civil claim arises and is processed through the courts. The accident kit provides me with a few bits of equipment to accurately record an accident and to do a little clean up afterwards. I’ve used it countless times and the evidence generated has been used in court a few times as well. It might not prevent a successful civil claim but it can help to reduce it.
Don’t most locations have this?
In my experience no. Some larger places will however most don’t. It’s not on their radar. Plus if you are working at events then the on site medics will only be concerned with the immediate casualty situation not with the investigation afterwards. I’ve worked across doors, retail, hotels, corporate, events and static and could count on two hands the number of places who have had one on site. Even those who do generally have a generic off the shelf motor vehicle kit (mine can be used for this also).
I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that mine is the best kit ever because it quite probably isn’t. But it works for me and thats what I look for in any piece of equipment . If there are people out there with suggestions for improvements I’d love to hear them. There are real H&S professionals out there who probably have much more comprehensive kits which is great but I’m looking for something that fits in a small container which in turn fits in a bag and works when I need it. Mine does all three so I’m happy.
PPE : Disposable gloves and boot covers . Fairly obvious here. You don’t want to get anything from the scene on your hands or drag stuff on your feet. Things like blood from a fall or footprints at a break in.
Camera: actually 2 cameras. One is a digital camera so that the photos can be uploaded to a computer and attached to an electronic report. I also keep a disposable single use camera in there to produce hard copy photos in case anything happens to the digital copies or the SD card gets corrupted or more likely the batteries die in the digital camera.
Measuring tape: For scale on accident scenes but also to show the size of a damaged area or the distance between vehicles etc. No need to go huge with this just a basic tape measure from the hardware store.
Graph paper: To sketch out an accident/incident scene and mark in key objects or positions of people. Much easier to use than a blank sheet of paper as you can scale the drawing to the scene using the measuring tape (1 square = 0.5m for example) to make your sketch more accurate. Also a pencil is handy to add to this.
Barrier tape: I’ve just wrapped about 50ft of barrier tape around an old gift card to cordon off a scene while it’s awaiting clean up or while I’m doing the investigation.
Bio hazard kit: For cleaning up the mess after an accident. Could be blood or vomit but I’d rather have this and keep it hygienic than a roll of kitchen paper. (First person to say “that’s a cleaners job” gets banned from all of my pages)
Sharpie: For writing on flash cards (obviously) or making up Area Closed signs really quickly.
Flash cards: Loads of reasons. Marking locations and referencing to points on the sketch when taking photographs. Also handy to give quickly to multiple witnesses to get contact details all at the same time when you are really busy.
Zip-loc bags: For picking up items such as damaged equipment that might need to be kept safely for later use or inspection. Ziploc bag and flash card to document details.
What can it be used for?
I’ve used mine for slip trip falls incidents, assaults, minor car accidents and break ins. Basically anything that may need a potential follow up from a civil liability or insurance perspective. The evidence generated can have two effects:
1. Reduce potential liability or at least gather evidence of the actual level of liability.
2. Makes you look like a real professional and gets credit for both you and your employer.
Some people might think that having one of these is slightly over the top. I don’t agree. It takes up hardly any space when arriving at a location or kept in a bag. It has so many uses and it costs very little. Mine is not going to be featured on too many episodes of CSI but it’s mine and it works and it makes me more comfortable having it so I’m keeping it.
This is not hi-tech and it’s not fancy. It’s practical it’s compact and it’s available. It also sets me apart from others. When I’ve gone to work at a site where something happens and I’ve had to use it then it’s always commented on. The amount of places who have said “we should get one of those” afterwards is quite large.
Think of it as just another tool on your toolkit. As with all tools you would rather be looking at it than looking for it when you need it.