Paramedics treat an employee on a construction site

Briefing: Accident reporting: what, where and when?

Workplace accidents are traumatic for all concerned. However, in the immediate wake of certain incidents, an employer has a legal duty to report the facts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Law firm rradar takes a look at what needs to be reported and when.

Employers need to report incidents so the HSE has the information it needs to monitor incidents, their causes, outcomes and what can be done to effectively reduce workplace deaths, injuries and ill health. The HSE may also need to take enforcement or legal action as a result. 

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) serve to focus employers’ minds on ensuring they have the facts regarding what happened as well as reminding them that they will be breaking the law if they don’t report incidents that they are required to report under RIDDOR.  

Not every incident needs to be reported; if that was the case, the HSE would be flooded with reports, most of which would be about minor incidents. Therefore, RIDDOR has several categories to ensure the right information reaches the HSE. 

What types of injury are reportable?  
Certain injuries must be reported under RIDDOR to the HSE:

When a worker, or non-worker dies (unless by suicide, which must be reported to the police), the death must be reported if it is suspected that it was caused by a work-related accident, including death at work caused by an act of physical violence to a worker. 

Specified injuries
RIDDOR (Regulation 4) provides a list of ‘specified injuries’ that must be reported to the HSE:  

  • Fractures (other than to fingers, thumbs or toes); 
  • Amputations; 
  • Any injury that could lead to a permanent loss of sight or reduction in sight; 
  • Any crush injury to the head or torso that causes damage to the brain or internal organs; 
  • A serious burn (including scalding): 
    • Covering more than 10% of the body; 
    • Causing significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs;
  • Any scalping requiring hospital treatment; 
  • Any loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia; 
  • Any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which: 
    • Leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness; 
    • Requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours. 

Incapacitation following an accident 
If an injury means an employee or self-employed person is off work or unable to carry out their normal work duties and that lasts for more than seven consecutive days, then it must be reported. This does not include the day of the accident but does include weekends and rest days. The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.  

If an injury causes a worker to be off work or unable to carry out their normal duties for more than three consecutive days, this must be recorded but there is no requirement to report it to the HSE. A record in an accident book will be sufficient.  

Non-fatal accidents to non-workers 
Accidents to members of the public or others who are not at work must be reported if they result in an injury and the person is taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment of the injury. Examinations and diagnostic tests do not count as ‘treatment’.  

If a person has been taken to hospital as a precautionary measure and there is no apparent injury, a report on the incident isn’t needed.  

Occupational diseases 
Certain occupations may cause or exacerbate diseases. Employers and the self-employed must report to the HSE when those diseases have been diagnosed.  

RIDDOR (Regulations 8 and 9) list the diseases covered, including:  

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome; 
  • Severe cramp of the hand or forearm; 
  • Occupational dermatitis; 
  • Hand-arm vibration syndrome; 
  • Occupational asthma; 
  • Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm; 
  • Any occupational cancer; 
  • Any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent. 

Dangerous occurrences 
Not all incidents have to result in injury to be reportable. Dangerous occurrences are certain near-miss events specified in the regulations, including: 

  • The collapse, overturning or failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment; 
  • Plant or equipment coming into contact with overhead power lines; 
  • The accidental release of any substance which could cause injury to any person. 

There are also additional categories which apply to sectors such as mining, quarries, offshore workplaces and transport systems including railways.  

Gas incidents 
As might be imagined, there are specific rules around the supply of gas and the installation of gas appliances.  

Distributors or suppliers of gas must make a report about any incident where a person has died, lost consciousness or has been taken to hospital to be treated for an injury related to gas exposure. There is a specific online form available from the HSE to report such incidents, entitled ‘Report of a Flammable Gas Incident’.  

In order to operate legally, all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register; there is a legal duty for them to report details of any appliance or fitting that they believe to be dangerous if that could lead to death, loss of consciousness or hospital treatment.  

There could be a number of reasons why the engineer might feel it’s a good idea to make the report; the design, construction, installation, modification or servicing of the appliance, leading to:  

  • An accidental leakage of gas; 
  • Incomplete combustion of gas or; 
  • Inadequate removal of products of the combustion of gas. 

Who should report? 
Under RIDDOR, only the ‘responsible person’ should submit a report on a qualifying incident. That will mean:  

  • Employers (in relation to workers); 
  • Some self-employed people; 
  • Those in control of work premises when a reportable work-related accident or event has occurred. 

An employer must report any work-related deaths, certain work-related injuries, cases of disease and near misses involving employees wherever they are working. 

If a self-employed person is working in someone else’s work premises and they suffer either a specified injury or an over-seven-day injury, then the person in control of the premises will be responsible for reporting; they need to be made aware of the incident.  

If there is a reportable accident while a self-employed person is working on their own premises or in domestic premises, or if a work-related disease or condition is identified, then the self-employed person needs to report it. 

A person in control of premises must report any work-related deaths, certain injuries to members of the public and self-employed people on the premises, and dangerous occurrences (some near miss incidents) that occur on the premises. 

Who should not report? 
To ensure information is not duplicated and to avoid distorting the data, someone who does not fall under the category of ‘responsible person’ should not be making a report. That will include:  

  • An injured person (unless that person is self-employed). 
  • A member of the public. 
  • Others without duties under RIDDOR. 

Employee concerns 
We’ve focussed so far on the reporting requirements that employers and the self-employed need to keep in mind. However, if an employee has suffered a work-related injury, or is diagnosed as suffering from a work-related disease that’s included in the list cited above, they may be wondering who to report it to. In the first instance, they should report it to their employer, who may not necessarily be aware of it.  

The employee may be concerned that the employer, or responsible person, has not made the report. They may well ask the employer if the incident has been reported or approach a union representative.  

If they are unsatisfied with what they find out, they may report their concern to the HSE, so this is something that employers need to be aware of when employee concerns about incidents are brought to their attention.   

Reporting online 
The ‘responsible person’ needs to submit a report by completing the relevant form online at the HSE website. The RIDDOR report should be sent as soon as possible and, in most cases, must be sent within ten days of the incident. That will then be sent to the RIDDOR database - rradar recommend the responsible person download a copy for their records.  

Anyone submitting a report needs to read the specific HSE RIDDOR guidance and we recommend legal advice is sought before doing so.  

rradar has a specialist team of solicitors who can advise on the requirements and content of RIDDOR reports. 

International Workplace’s Accident and incident reporting course covers the role and function of an accident investigator, the factors that result in accidents, incidents and near misses, and how to investigate accidents, incidents and near misses.

The course will help learners develop their understanding and skill set to be able to complete and process accident report forms, whilst improving their investigation techniques and practices.