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The key advantage of RIDDOR is that all notable accidents and incidents that happen in a workplace environment get reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
This enables these accidents and incidents to be reviewed not only by the employer but also by the HSE and other relevant authorities. It also ensures that changes are proposed to make the workplace safer, not only for the employees of the organisation but also for any non- employees such as contractors, visitors, customers or other members of the public who may have access to the organisation’s premises.
By regularly addressing the potential risk exposures and creating awareness, the number of incidents happening in the workplace environment can be minimised. RIDDOR records can help to build a picture of an organisation’s health and safety record and help to minimise costs from accident loss. Accident and incident statistics that occur in workplaces are gathered from RIDDOR reporting.
Provisional data released in July this year (2021) shows that a total of 142 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21, an increase of 29 from the previous year, though the number of deaths in 2019/20, 113, was low compared to other recent years.
In addition, in 2020/21 the HSE reported that 60 members of the public were killed due to work-related activities; this figure is lower than in previous years, but is still alarmingly high.
In the latest Labour Force Survey (2020), work-related infectious disease, for example virus or bacteria, incidents remained unchanged from 2019 at around 24,000 cases, below the 2017 to 2019 3-year average of just over 30,000 cases. It should be noted, however, that this survey only relates to ill-health cases during the 12-month period before March 2020; the first COVID-19 case in the UK was confirmed on 31 January 2020, so COVID statistics do not appear to be included in this figure.
Common types of workplace accidents that are RIDDOR reported include:
- Forklift accidents, particularly in warehouses, large retail operations and on construction sites etc.
- Falls from vehicles, in agriculture (tractors), construction (forklifts trucks and telescopic handlers) etc.
- Ladder accidents, particularly in construction, maintenance and anywhere workers use ladders to work at height.
- Plant and equipment accidents such as guard-related injuries, crush injuries, particularly in manufacturing and heavy industry.
- Hazardous substances such as chemical burns, and respiratory problems, including asbestos exposure.
- Falling objects such as dropped tools and heavy loads etc.
- Accidents in confined spaces, particularly during maintenance of machinery and plant.
- Needlestick accidents – These happen mainly to workers in hospitals, healthcare services and waste disposal services.
- Manual handling accidents, such as lifting and carrying incidents.
- Unsafe work equipment, particularly relating to badly maintained equipment or lack of training in the use of tools and machinery.
According to the Labour Force Survey 2019/20 the type of accidents and incidents listed above caused the loss of 38.8 million working days in that 12-month period.
What does RIDDOR mean?
RIDDOR stands for Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. It is the legislation which controls which workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses you should report, and how you should report them. This legislation was updated in 2020 to include measures required as a result of COVID-19.
More specifically, the workplace accident and incident categories that must be reported include:
- The death of any person – All deaths to workers and non-workers, with the exception of suicides, must be reported if they arise from a work-related accident, including an act of physical violence to a worker.
- Specified injuries to workers – These include:
– Fractures, other than to fingers, thumbs and toes.
– Any injury likely to lead to permanent loss of sight or reduction in sight.
– Any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs.
– Serious burns, including scalding, which cover more than 10% of the body, or cause 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.
– Any injury which requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.
- Over-seven-day incapacitation of a worker – Accidents must be reported where they result in an employee or self-employed person being away from work, or unable to perform their normal work duties, for more than seven consecutive days as a result of their injury.
- Non-fatal accidents to non-workers, for example to members of the public – 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 to that injury.
- Occupational diseases – Employers and self-employed people must report diagnoses of certain occupational diseases, where these are likely to have been caused or made worse by their work. These diseases include:
– 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 – Dangerous occurrences are certain, specified near-miss events. Not all such events require reporting. There are 27 categories of dangerous occurrences that are relevant to most workplaces, for example:
– 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.
- 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.
An employer reporting any of the above occurrences to RIDDOR will need to include:
- The date the incident was reported.
- The exact date, time and location of the incident.
- Details of the person/personnel involved such as name, job title, team, supervisor name etc.
- Description of the injury or illness.
- The details of the occurrence that caused it.
It is a legal requirement for an employer to report a RIDDOR occurrence, and failure to do so could lead to prosecution. It is an employer’s duty to show due diligence to the legislation.
The HSE and local authority enforcement officers are not an emergency service, however, the HSE does have an out of hours duty officer.
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, for example the closure of roads or evacuation of people.
Reports submitted under RIDDOR must be submitted online, via the HSE website, within 10 days of the incident happening or within 15 days if the person injured needed to take more than 7 days sick leave from work. If an employer fails to report an accident to RIDDOR they could face paying a fine of up to £20,000 from the enforcing authority.
Some incidents are not reportable under RIDDOR; however, this does not mean that the general provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA) do not apply. Depending on the circumstances, the enforcing authority may decide it is appropriate to investigate such incidents. This is more likely to arise where serious management failures have contributed to, or had the potential to cause, death or serious injury.
It is worth noting that stress is not reportable as an occupational injury, even when accompanied by a medical certificate stating it is work-related, because it does not result from a single definable accident.
Why is RIDDOR important in the workplace?
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.
Between 1986/87 and 2019/20, the number of non-fatal injuries reported under RIDDOR dropped by more than 58%. According to the Labour Force Survey, self-reported non-fatal injuries have been on a generally downward trend over the two decades since the year 2000 and are broadly flat over the last few years.
These figures imply that the RIDDOR reporting and inspections have a positive effect on workplace safety, preventing the frequent occurrence of accidents in the workplace.
Why is RIDDOR important in health and social care?
The reporting of injuries under RIDDOR assists authorities who are responsible for health and social care to become aware of any health and safety occurrences and helps them to decide whether to investigate the incidents.
The HSE leads on employee health and safety; however, in the health and social care sector there are other regulatory and enforcing authorities involved. These include the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the General Medical Council (GMC). The HSE will pass on reported information about patient or service user incidents to other regulators where appropriate.
It is a key duty of health and social care managers to investigate all RIDDOR occurrences to identify the cause(s) and to try to prevent re-occurrence. There are some regulations within RIDDOR that are specific to health and social care.
These examples include:
- Deaths in health and social care – The death of any person must be reported under RIDDOR, whether or not they are at work, if it is caused by an accident arising out of or in connection with work.
- Diseases, infections and ill health in health and social care – Infections that could have been acquired as easily in the community as in work are not reportable, unless the infection was definitely acquired at work, for example:
– A nurse contracts active pulmonary TB after nursing a patient with the condition.
– A laboratory worker suffers from typhoid after working with specimens containing typhoid.
- Sharps injuries in health and social care – A sharps injury is when a needle or other sharp instrument accidentally penetrates the skin. It is sometimes called a needlestick injury. Not all sharps injuries are reportable under RIDDOR; examples of those that are and are not include:
– A cleaner suffers a needlestick injury from a needle and syringe known to contain hepatitis B positive blood. This is reportable as a dangerous occurrence.
– However, an employee who is cut with a scalpel used on a patient not known to be contagious, but undergoing blood checks for hepatitis A, is not reportable.
- Injuries and ill health involving people not at work in health and social care – Any injury to someone not at work must be RIDDOR reported if it results from an accident arising out of or in connection with work being undertaken by others. Examples of those that are and are not reportable include:
– A patient is scalded by hot bath water and taken to hospital for treatment. The patient was vulnerable and adequate precautions were not taken to prevent this happening; this is reportable.
– A patient receives a healthcare-associated infection while receiving treatment in hospital. Hospital-associated infections acquired by patients are not reportable under RIDDOR.
- Patient/service user fall incidents in health and social care – A fall is reportable under RIDDOR when it has arisen out of or in connection with a work activity. This includes where equipment or the work environment, including how or where work is carried out, organised or supervised, are involved. Examples of those incidents that are and are not reportable under RIDDOR include:
– A service user falls in the lounge area. There is previous history of fall incidents, but reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risks have not been put in place. This is reportable under RIDDOR.
– However, if a service user falls and breaks a leg and they were identified as not requiring special supervision or falls prevention equipment and there are no slips or trips obstructions or defects in the premises or environment, nor any other contributory factors, then this is not reportable.
- Clinical decisions in health and social care – If a person is injured as a result of an accident arising directly from the conduct of any operation, any examination or other medical treatment being carried out by or under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner or registered dentist, the injury is not reportable. However, should a patient suffer a serious injury as a result of a power failure during an operation and not caused by the conduct of the operation, then this is reportable under RIDDOR.
- Dangerous occurrences in health and social care – Dangerous occurrences are certain specified near-miss events, which may not result in a reportable injury, but have the potential to do significant harm. Examples of those occurrences that are and are not reportable under RIDDOR include:
– The collapse, overturning or failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment is reportable under RIDDOR.
– However, should there be a collision between two vehicles in a hospital car park and no-one is injured, this is not reportable under RIDDOR.
Why is RIDDOR important in a care home?
The importance of RIDDOR discussed above in health and social care is also applicable to care homes. However, recent data suggests that care providers may not be complying with their reporting obligations under RIDDOR.
Some care providers are understandably concerned that notifying the HSE of a non-reportable incident could result in an unnecessary HSE investigation. This could be, at least in part, as a consequence of ambiguity within the HSE’s RIDDOR guidance. Some care providers are also concerned that a notification under RIDDOR may be construed as an admission of responsibility should a criminal and/or civil action be pursued.
Care providers should be aware that a failure to report deaths, diseases and dangerous occurrences in accordance with RIDDOR is a criminal offence that can attract a significant fine and/or imprisonment.
It is essential that they fully consider the applicability of RIDDOR when assessing any health and safety incident and especially a COVID-19 related death or occurrence.
The HSE has accepted that there are difficulties in applying the reporting criteria in the unusual circumstances presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, and this has resulted in initial HSE RIDDOR guidance being supplemented with a number of examples setting out when and when not to report COVID-19 related incidents.
Why is RIDDOR important in a nursery or childcare setting?
Childcare practitioners are required to take steps to prevent accidents, and, when they do occur, respond quickly and appropriately to effectively manage the impact of them. An accident is an event that is unplanned, unintended and unexpected, or an unforeseen or unintended exposure to risk.
This may either be a risk that has not been identified or a risk that has been identified but not adequately controlled.
Accidents in a childcare setting should be reported, recorded and properly investigated. The recording of accidents and near misses is important on a number of levels, from potential insurance claims, to the safeguarding of children, to keeping the confidence of parents. Reporting all accidents and incidents also makes it easier to spot trends and prevent such accidents happening again.
As well as RIDDOR compliance responsibilities, the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets out what childcare providers’ duties are in respect to accident and injury.
Why is RIDDOR important in a laboratory?
There are a wide range of hazards from chemicals, for example tetrachloroethylene (TTCE), and process fluids such as gas, oil, condensate and drilling fluid that are handled in laboratories.
Working in and having access to this type of work environment, there is potential risk of injuries and incidents happening.
Laboratory owners have the same responsibilities as all employers under RIDDOR but they must also report:
- Infections which can be directly linked to work with microorganisms.
- Cases of infectious diseases.
- When exposure to a biological agent or its toxin, or infection materials, has caused a worker to require hospital treatment, not including diagnostic testing or medical examination.
- Any accidental release of harmful substances which could cause human illness or injury.
- Failure of load-bearing equipment which could cause injury or death to a worker or an accidental ignition of explosive materials.
Common colds and viruses are not generally reportable unless they can be attributed to direct exposure to infectious materials within the laboratory.
It is important to learn lessons to continuously improve safety in the major hazards industries such as laboratories. Dangerous occurrences reported to the HSE through RIDDOR provide an opportunity for such lessons to be learned.
Why is it important to record and report accidents?
If you have had an accident or have suffered from a work-related illness at work, the first thing that you must do is to seek medical attention. It is then essential to report this incident to your employer. It can help your employer to improve their health and safety precautions to avoid future accidents, incidents and illnesses. Information on accidents, incidents and ill health can be used as an aid to risk assessment, helping to develop solutions to potential risks.
RIDDOR reports can also help in cases where the injured person decides to pursue compensation; they can be used to either support or refute the claim. RIDDOR reports are also consulted when an organisation is being investigated for potentially breaching health and safety regulations.
It is a legal requirement for all employers to report incidents, accidents and ill health at work. The information collected enables the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other agencies to collate information about how and why risks arise and to investigate serious incidents.
It also gives a variety of agencies the opportunity to work together to make workplaces safer and to prevent accidents and ill health at work from occurring.