A Guide to Accident Reporting in the UK Workplace

Mastering Accident Reporting in UK Workplaces: A Comprehensive Guide

Accidents and incidents in the workplace are not just disruptive; they're often a signpost directing attention towards emerging trends and uncovering root causes. In the UK, understanding and correctly implementing accident reporting procedures is not just a legal necessity but also a moral imperative for employers and employees alike. This extended guide aims to provide a detailed overview of the processes and regulations governing accident reporting in UK workplaces.

The Legal Framework: Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) and Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR)

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

This Act forms the backbone of health and safety law in the UK. It sets out the general duties employers have towards employees and the public, and that employees have to themselves and each other. These duties are broad, encompassing everything from providing safe working equipment to ensuring adequate training and supervision.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013

Under RIDDOR, employers, self-employed individuals, and persons in control of work premises have specific duties to report certain types of accidents, incidents, and illnesses. These reports play a crucial role in allowing the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities to identify where and how risks arise and to investigate serious incidents.

A RIDDOR must only be reported to the HSE when:

  • there has been an accident which has caused the injury
  • the accident is work-related
  • the injury is of a type which is reportable

What does 'work-related' mean?

The fact that there is an accident at work does not, in itself, mean the accident is work related, the work activity itself must contribute. 

In the context of an accident, 'work related' implies that the incident occurred as a result of, or in connection with, one's employment or work activities. It includes accidents that take place while an individual is performing their job role or on the employer's premises. 

Key Reporting Requirements Under RIDDOR:

  • Deaths and Specified Injuries: Any work-related accidents causing deaths or specified severe injuries, such as fractures or amputations, must be reported within 10 days.
  • Over-Seven-Day Injuries: If an employee is incapacitated and unable to work for more than seven days (not counting the day of the accident), it must be reported within 15 working days.
  • Occupational Diseases: Certain work-related diseases, such as occupational dermatitis or carpal tunnel syndrome if diagnosed, are reportable as soon as the responsible person receives a diagnosis.
  • Dangerous Occurrences: These are certain, specified near-miss events that have the potential to cause serious injury or death, such as the complete or partial collapse of scaffold more than 5 metres high. They must be reported within 10 days.
  • Non fatal accidents to non-workers: Members of the public who are injured, taken from the scene directly to hospital and receive treatment, need to be reported within 10 days.

Reports are typically made online through a system provided by the HSE or HSENI  (Northern Ireland).

Recording requirements:

All employers must keep a record of any reportable injury, an injury that leaves a worker incapacitated for over three days, an individual who has been diagnosed with an occupational disease or if there has been a dangerous occurrence.

Note: Make sure any personal data recorded on an accident report form is stored in a secure place.

The Immediate Response to an Accident

1. Emergency Action and First Aid

Immediate attention should be given to the injured party, with first aid administered as required and emergency services contacted in severe cases.

2. Securing the Accident Site

Preserving the scene of an accident is vital for any subsequent investigations. This may involve cordoning off the area or securing machinery or equipment.

 3. Notification of Authorities

For serious incidents, immediate notification to the relevant authority (HSE or local council) is required under RIDDOR.

4. Start Recording Details

All accidents, regardless of their severity, should be recorded on an Accident Report Form and stored in the company’s accident book. This is also a legal requirement under social security law for companies with ten or more employees.

You may also need report any incidents to your insurer. Accident report forms can be invaluable when dealing with insurance claims. 

Worker who has been involved in a workplace accident

Complete an In-Depth Accident Investigation

Conducting a thorough investigation following an accident is essential for preventing future incidents. This involves:

  • Gathering evidence, including witness statements, photographs, and physical evidence.
  • Analysing the accident to understand its cause.
  • Identifying and implementing measures to prevent recurrence.

Creating an Investigation Team

Involving a team, often comprising members from different levels and departments within the organisation, can provide a more holistic understanding of the incident.

Looking Beyond Immediate Causes

While identifying the surface-level factors is important, a more in depth analysis is often required, this involves probing into underlying conditions, systemic issues and organisational dynamics. This approach is often referred to root cause analysis and will aim to identify any fundamental contributors that might not be immediately obvious. By delving beyond the obvious triggers, employers can implement more effective preventative measures, address systemic weaknesses, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. 

Promoting a Culture of Safety and Compliance

Beyond compliance with legal requirements, fostering a culture of safety is pivotal. Regular training, open communication channels for reporting hazards, and routine safety audits can help inculcate safety as a core company value.

Updating Policies and Practices

Regular review and updates of health and safety policies, in light of new regulations, technological advancements, and after incidents, ensure ongoing compliance and improvement.

Conclusion

Accident reporting is an essential aspect of workplace safety management. Adherence to the Health and Safety at Work Act and RIDDOR is crucial, but it's just the starting point. Building a culture that prioritises safety, continually evaluating and improving safety practices, and ensuring every member of the organisation understands their role in maintaining a safe working environment is what truly makes a difference. Remember, effective accident reporting isn't just about ticking regulatory boxes; it's about actively safeguarding the well-being of every individual in the workplace and fostering an environment where safety is second nature.

Find our simple-to-use Accident Report Form here.

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