Incidents in the workplace: to record or to report?
What is the difference?
Reporting is required when an accident occurs in the workplace and results in an injury of a specific type. Reportable injuries are; the death of any person, those resulting in over-seven-day incapacitation of an employee or self-employed person, injuries specified in RIDDOR such as fractures, crush injuries and burns and non-fatal accidents to non-workers who are taken to hospital immediately following the accident for treatment. Also reportable are occupational diseases, and injuries caused by dangerous occurrences and gas incidents.
Recording is required if a reportable incident occurs (as above), or an employee or self-employed person suffers an over-three-day incapacitation. A company’s legal obligation to keep an accident record should satisfy the recording obligation under RIDDOR.
Who should be doing it?
RIDDOR requires a “responsible person” to report a reportable injury. A “responsible person” includes a broad range of persons, including employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises.
How to report an incident
It is relatively straightforward to report a reportable injury to HSE. The preferred method is the use of an online form, which can be found here.
A simple way to keep a record of reportable incidents is to keep a copy of the report sent to HSE. If you chose not to, your records must include the date, time and location of the incident, details of those involved and a description of the incident or disease.
Failure to comply
A breach of the rules could lead to the HSE imposing a fine. One example, available on the HSE website, describes a preventative inspection that discovered two migrant workers had suffered a crush injury and an amputation injury between them. The company had failed to report the injuries and were fined £3,500.
In 2012, Tesco was fined £34,000 after pleading guilty to three breaches of RIDDOR. Two of these charges involved Tesco not reporting accidents by the “quickest practicable means” and the third was a failure to send a report to the enforcing authority within 10 days.
It is important that members of staff are encouraged to inform their employer if an incident occurs. Be sure to keep an accident book to record all incidents resulting in injury, no matter how minor, and report any reportable injuries to HSE as soon as they occur. For further information you should visit the HSE website, which provides excellent guidance on the topic.