In this article
Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, (RIDDOR) employers, the self-employed and anyone in control of a work premises are required to report some work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Figures show that accidents and workplace injuries are major issues for businesses. For the year 2019/2020, 693,000 working people sustained an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey taken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS); 525,000 of these injuries required a leave of absence from work of under seven days and 168,00 required a leave of absence of over seven days. There were 65,427 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR and unfortunately 142 workers were killed at work.
Of the non-fatal injuries:
- 29% involved trips or falls on the same level.
- 19% involved handling, lifting or carrying.
- 11% involved being struck by a moving object.
- 9% involved acts of violence.
- 8% involved falls from a height.
During this period 38.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injuries and the estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions is approximately £16.2 billion per year.
What is RIDDOR?
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, otherwise known as RIDDOR, is the legislation which controls which workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses you should report, and how you should report them.
RIDDOR puts a legal requirement on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises, known as the Responsible Person, to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses) to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Everyone has a right to be safe at work and employers have a responsibility to ensure that not only their employees but also anyone who has access to the organisation’s premises are safe. Whilst accidents will always happen and risk can never be entirely eliminated, the law requires that the risks of injury at work are kept to the absolute minimum. This is where health and safety legislation including RIDDOR reporting comes in.
Why report an accident?
An employer has two main responsibilities when it comes to preventing and reporting accidents in the workplace:
- They should take measures to protect anyone in the workplace from harm including non-employees, for example visitors and customers.
- They should inform the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), or in certain situations, the local authority, in the case of specific incidents including accidents that prevent workers from returning to work for seven days or more. It is an employer’s duty to conduct risk assessments, offer appropriate health and safety training, conduct emergency planning and provide adequate first aid.
In relation to RIDDOR, an accident is defined as a separate, identifiable, unintended incident which causes physical injury. This specifically includes acts of non-consensual violence to people at work. Accidents and near misses should be reviewed as part of a robust workplace health and safety policy so that an employer can take steps to prevent accidents happening again. Reporting accidents and incidents at work is a legal requirement.
The aim of RIDDOR reporting is to create a record of incident numbers and types in order to form a picture of the risks involved in different industries and occupations. This data is important in understanding how common different occupational injuries are.
It allows regulators such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to know where and how risks in the workplace arise so that they can advise organisations how to avoid incidents. Reporting also allows the authorities to consider whether further investigation and sanctions are needed.
If an employer fails to report an accident to RIDDOR they could face paying a fine of up to £20,000 per incident from the enforcing authority. In 2011, Tesco was fined £34,000 for RIDDOR failures after it admitted not following essential procedures for reporting staff injuries at two of its stores.
For employees it is important to record the details of any accident, including the cause, injuries and the symptoms. This can then be cross-referenced against medical records, as proof that the accident happened, which can be used as evidence if anyone decides to pursue a work-related accident claim.
What must be reported?
Deaths and injuries to people at work only have to be reported if they are the result of an accident which arises out of or in connection with work.
In deciding whether the accident arose out of or in connection with work the key issues to consider are whether the incident was because of:
- The way the work was carried out.
- Machinery, plant, substances or equipment used for work.
- The condition of the site or premises where the accident happened.
If any of these factors are connected to the cause of an accident it will need to be reported to the enforcing authority, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Where none of these factors apply the incident is not likely to be reportable.
Fatalities must be reported when they are the result of:
- An occupational injury to a worker.
- A work-related accident to any person not only employees.
- A suicide on a railway or tram system.
- An act of physical violence to a worker.
How to report an accident at work?
When an incident occurs in the workplace, the first thing you must do is to assess the current situation to check if there is a risk of further injury or damage if you attend to the injured person. You do not want to put yourself in danger.
A qualified first-aider must check over the injured person and evaluate whether or not they need to seek professional medical help. If the injuries are serious, call 999 immediately and ensure that a responsible member of staff goes to the hospital with the injured party.
If the accident is minor, treat the injuries as required by cleaning up wounds, applying bandages etc. It is, however, important to note that not all injuries are visible to the naked eye, and so it is recommended to be examined by a doctor to check for any potential issues.
Workplaces are legally obliged to have an accident book; this may be an online version. It is normally a responsibility for employees to report incidents under an organisation’s Health and Safety policy.
Details of the incident need to be accurately recorded including:
- The name, gender, date of birth and job title of the injured party or status if they are not an employee.
- The date of the accident.
- The details of what and how the incident occurred.
- Specific injury details.
- If the injured party is pregnant.
- The name and job title of the person logging the details.
The information lodged in the accident book may be required if the injury becomes more serious than first envisaged. It should also be used to help improve health and safety standards and procedures in the organisation, to avoid future similar accidents from happening in the future.
A formal investigation into the cause of the accident should be conducted as early as possible. This may include taking witness statements and taking photographs of the area where the incident happened.
Only “responsible persons” are required to submit reports under RIDDOR. Responsible persons include employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises, such as the manager of the site where an incident takes place.
Employees do not have a legal responsibility to report incidents under RIDDOR. However, if employees witness or experience something falling under RIDDOR, they should report it to an appropriate supervisor.
Reports are made according to the procedure set out in RIDDOR:
- Injuries, fatalities and dangerous occurrences should be reported without delay and must be reported within 10 days.
- Accidents that result in the incapacitation of workers for over seven days must be reported within 15 days from the day of the incident.
- In occupational diseases, a report of the diagnosis should be sent without delay.
RIDDOR reports are made to the HSE. All incidents can be reported using one of the standard online RIDDOR forms available on its website. A telephone service is also provided for reporting fatal, specified and major incidents only. The contact centre telephone number is 0345 300 9923, and their opening hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.
Reporting out of hours
The HSE and local authority enforcement officers are not an emergency service.
The type of circumstances where the HSE may need to respond out of hours are:
- Following a work-related death.
- Following a serious incident where there have been multiple casualties.
- Following an incident which has caused major disruption such as evacuation of people, closure of roads, large numbers of people going to hospital etc.
If the incident fits these descriptions, ring the duty officer on 0151 922 9235.
Types of reportable injury
Specified injuries. RIDDOR sets out a list of worker injuries that must be reported.
- Any bone fracture, other than to a finger, thumb or toe. Bone fractures include a break, crack or chip. They are reportable when diagnosed or confirmed by a doctor. If an X-ray is not taken, there may be no definitive evidence of fracture but the injury will still be reportable if a doctor considers it likely there is a fracture. Self-diagnosed ‘suspected fractures’ are not reportable.
- Amputation of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe – this includes both traumatic amputation at the accident time and surgical amputation following an accident as a result of the injuries sustained.
- Permanent blinding or reduction of sight in one or both eyes – any blinding or reduction in sight is reportable when a doctor diagnoses the effects are likely permanent.
- Any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs in the chest or abdomen.
- Serious burns, including scalding, covering more than 10% of the body or significantly damaging the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs are reportable, irrespective of the nature of the agent involved. This includes burns caused by direct heat, chemical burns and radiological burns. Where the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs are significantly harmed, this is reportable irrespective of the surface area covered by that burn. Damage caused by smoke inhalation is not included in this definition.
- Any degree of scalping requiring hospital treatment. Scalping is the traumatic separation or peeling of the skin from the head due to an accident, such as hair becoming entangled in machinery. Lacerations, where the skin is not separated from the head, are not included, nor are surgical procedures where skin removal is deliberate.
- Unconsciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia. The length of time someone remains unconscious is not significant in whether an incident is reportable.
- Any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which leads to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or requires resuscitation or admission to hospital for more than 24 hours. An enclosed space includes any space wholly or partly enclosed that creates a significantly increased health and safety risk.
- It must also be reported if, following work injury, an employee or self-employed person is away from work or unable to perform their normal duties for more than seven consecutive days. Sometimes the full extent of an injury may be unclear, such as when a prognosis has not yet been made in relation to an eye injury. In such instances, a report need not be made until the final prognosis. However, it is likely that an injury will first need reporting if a worker is out of action for more than seven days. The enforcing authority should be notified or updated as soon as a specified injury has been confirmed.
- Injuries to non-workers – all injuries to members of the public or non-workers must be reported if taken directly from the accident scene to hospital for treatment. Reporting is not required if only taken to hospital as a precaution where no injury is apparent. Examinations and diagnostic tests are classified as treatment.
Injuries are reportable to the HSE online.
Reportable occupational diseases
Once diagnosed, the following eight categories of reportable work-related illnesses must be reported by employers and the self-employed:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, where work involves regular use of percussive or vibrating tools.
- Cramp in the hand or forearm, where work involves prolonged repetitive movement of the fingers, hand or arm. Where cramp is so severe as to lead to a clinical diagnosis, it can be severely debilitating, and impair ability to work. This condition is reportable when chronic but an acute incident in the course of work is not reportable.
- Occupational dermatitis – where work involves significant or regular exposure to a known skin sensitizer or irritant. In particular, this includes any chemical with the warning ‘may cause sensitisation by skin contact’ or ‘irritating to the skin’. Dermatitis can be caused by exposure to a range of common agents found outside the workplace. If there is good evidence the condition has been caused solely by such exposure rather than exposure to an agent at work, it is not reportable.
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome, also known as HAVS – this is where work involves regular use of percussive or vibrating tools, or holding materials that are subject to percussive or vibrating processes.
- Occupational asthma, where work involves significant or regular exposure to a known respiratory sensitizer. In particular, this will include any chemical with the warning ‘may cause sensitisation by inhalation’. If there is good evidence that the condition was pre-existing and was not triggered or made worse by exposure at work, the condition is not reportable.
- Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm, where work is physically demanding and involves frequent, repetitive movements.
- Any occupational cancer – cases must be reported where there is a causal link between the type of cancer diagnosed and the hazards exposed to through work. Hazards include all known human carcinogens and mutagens, including ionising radiation. Cases are not reportable when they are not linked with work-related exposures to carcinogens or mutagens. Reports are only required when work significantly increases the risk of developing the cancer. The following must be reported:
– Mesothelioma or lung cancer in someone occupationally exposed to asbestos fibres.
– Cancer of the nasal cavity or sinuses in someone occupationally exposed to wood dust.
- Any disease attributable to occupational exposure to a biological agent – a biological agent is defined in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 as a micro-organism, cell culture, or human endoparasite which may cause infection, allergy, toxicity or other hazard to human health. A report should be made whenever there is reasonable evidence to suggest work-related exposure was the likely cause of the disease. Exposure may take place as a result of an identifiable event, such as accidentally breaking a laboratory flask, accidental injury with a contaminated syringe needle or an animal bite and unidentified events where workers are exposed without their knowledge, for example, exposure to legionella bacteria while routinely maintaining a hot water service system.
When reporting occupational diseases, particulars to be kept in records of any diagnosis reportable under regulations include:
- The date of diagnosis of the disease.
- The name of the person affected.
- The occupation of the person affected.
- The name or nature of the disease.
- The date on which the disease was first reported to the relevant enforcing authority.
- The method by which the disease was reported.
Occupational diseases are reportable to the HSE online.
Reportable dangerous occurrences
RIDDOR defines “dangerous occurrences” as certain specified near-miss events which have the potential to cause harm. In other words, instances when a serious accident was thankfully avoided. The regulations provide that an occurrence is dangerous if it arises out of or in connection with work and is within certain specified categories.
RIDDOR lists three kinds of reportable dangerous occurrence:
- General incidents occurring at any workplace. These apply to all workplaces and include dangerous occurrences involving lifting equipment, pressure systems, overhead electric lines, electrical incidents causing explosion or fire, other explosions, biological agents, radiation generators and radiography, breathing apparatus, diving operations, collapse of scaffolding, train collisions, wells and pipelines or pipeline works.
- Incidents occurring at any workplace other than offshore. These include structural collapses, explosions or fires, releases of flammable liquids and gases and hazardous escape of substances.
- Incidents occurring at specific types of workplace. Industries with specific requirements are offshore workplaces, mines, quarries and relevant transport systems.
27 categories of dangerous occurrences are relevant to most workplaces and the full list can be found in RIDDOR. The list is designed to obtain information mainly about incidents with a high potential to cause death or serious injury but that happen relatively infrequently.
Dangerous occurrences are reportable to the HSE online.
Reportable gas incidents
Distributors, fillers, importers and suppliers of flammable gas must report incidents where someone has died, lost consciousness or been taken to hospital for treatment to an injury arising in connection with that gas. Registered gas engineers under the Gas Safe Register must provide details of any gas appliances or fittings they consider dangerous to the extent people could die, lose consciousness or require hospital treatment.
The danger could be due to the design, construction, installation, modification or servicing of appliances or fittings that could cause:
- Accidental leakage of gas.
- Incomplete combustion of gas.
- Inadequate removal of products of the combustion of gas.
Records of incidents covered by RIDDOR are important. They ensure that you collect sufficient information to allow you to properly manage health and safety risks. This information is a valuable management tool that can be used as an aid to risk assessment, helping to develop solutions to potential risks. In this way, records also help to prevent injuries and ill health, and control costs from accidental loss.
Employers must keep a record of any injury resulting from a work-related accident that results in the worker being incapacitated for more than three days (not counting the day of the accident). The employer must follow the reporting procedure under RIDDOR if the worker’s incapacitation lasts for more than seven days.
Employers must also keep a record of a work-related accident that results in the death of any person; a worker suffering certain injuries that are specified under RIDDOR; and injuries to someone who is not at work, for example a visitor or a customer, that result in them being taken directly to hospital for treatment. Records must also be kept of certain occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences as specified under RIDDOR.
The records must include particulars of:
- The date, time and place of the incident.
- The name and occupation of the person involved, or name, contact information and status if they are not a person at work, for example visitor, customer, bystander, passenger etc.
- Details of the injury.
- A brief description of the circumstances in which the incident occurred.
- The date and method of reporting of the incident under RIDDOR unless the record relates to an over-three-day injury that is not reportable.
RIDDOR records need to be provided to the regulator on request and must be kept for a minimum of three years after the date of the last incident reported. All employee RIDDOR records must be kept strictly confidential and stored securely to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018.
It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their staff, so, if an incident occurred that required reporting under RIDDOR, the employer should review policies and procedures to see if this was something that could, or should, have been foreseen.
The employer should print and save a copy of the online HSE form they have completed. A copy of the form will be automatically emailed to the email address provided by the person reporting the incident, but it is best to save a copy in case of any entry mistakes.
The HSE do not inform the organisation’s insurance company when a report is submitted so an employer may be required under their insurance policy to inform the insurer in case of any future claim.