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Every workplace has procedures for reporting and recording accidents, incidents, and illnesses, care homes are no exception. When you work in a care setting, the opportunity for incidents and ill health to arise is greater since the people you work with are likely to already be struggling with physical problems.
The rules for accident recording in your workplace are laid out under RIDDOR, or Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. In these regulations, it’s laid out clearly what things need to be recorded and how to record them.
It’s estimated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that around one third of all workplace incidents aren’t reported correctly. This could lead to risks not being mitigated properly or patterns of abuse or infections not being identified. Where incidents have been reported, over two million people were known to have suffered from work-related ill health or injuries in 2018/19.
With health and social care being a profession at higher risk of accidents, injuries, or illness due to work, it’s important that you as a professional fully understand your RIDDOR responsibilities. With that in mind, here we’re going to be answering the following questions:
- What is RIDDOR and how does it apply to care homes?
- What needs to be reported under RIDDOR and how do you make a report?
- What does the law say about RIDDOR?
- When does a RIDDOR report need to be made and what happens when you don’t complete one?
- What’s everyone’s responsibilities under RIDDOR and how do you comply with them?
There is a sample RIDDOR policy supplied at the end which you can adapt to the needs of the care home that you work in.
What does RIDDOR mean?
RIDDOR is a set of regulations that dictate what types of workplace incidents and sickness need to be recorded. Reports are monitored by the HSE and can be used to inform risk assessments and prevent future incidents.
In your care home, there is lots of potential for accidents to occur, whether during lifting and moving residents or due to their age or ill health. RIDDOR procedures mean that specific incidents and illnesses must be recorded accurately.
As a member of staff in a care home, you need to be aware of what is and isn’t a specified accident or illness. This is in relation to your interactions with your residents as well as your general health. We’ll be covering the type of things that need recording in more detail below.
When you’re a manager or the person responsible for RIDDOR reporting, the process of accident recording means you need to know everything that needs capturing. You’ll be responsible for noting everything under the regulations in an accident book.
RIDDOR means that whenever a regulatory body asks to see your reports, you must give them the data.
These bodies differ across the UK and are:
- The HSE.
- The Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England.
- Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) in Scotland.
- The Care Inspectorate in Scotland.
- The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) in Wales.
- The Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) in Wales.
How does RIDDOR apply to care homes?
Due to the very nature of care homes, the chances of a reportable incident happening is higher than in a lot of workplaces. Lots of the residents you care for will need help getting out of bed, getting washed, and getting dressed, and these are all times where accidents are more likely to happen.
Added to these riskier activities is the chance of sickness and infection for you as a worker. Blood borne diseases are a possibility in a care environment if there are sharps around, and other sickness such as diarrhoea and vomiting can occur and keep you off work.
Any accident or sickness involving a resident or employee must be recorded, as well as any medical professionals visiting such as doctors or podiatrists.
It may be possible for risks to be mitigated in the long run when you report incidents in your care home. There may be a step that causes residents to fall often, which can be turned into a ramp, for example. When reports are made, staff are also protected from accusations of abuse or mistreatment of residents.
What is RIDDOR reportable?
In 2013, RIDDOR came into force and replaced previous guidelines that were sometimes cumbersome and very tightly defined. The procedures for reporting and recording accidents and illness were streamlined with broader reportable incidents.
Accidents, injuries, and diseases all have rules around what you’d need to report. Here, we’ll break them down and give some examples pertinent to your work in a care home.
RIDDOR reportable accidents
There is a clear definition of an accident in terms of RIDDOR, “a separate, identifiable, unintended incident that causes physical injury” including acts of non-consensual violence. The two elements that dictate whether an accident is reportable are:
1. Being related to work
2. It results in a reportable injury – more on that in a moment
You might call into question what an accident relating to your work means. It’s also set out in the accident reporting regulations:
- Was the incident caused due to the working organisation, operations, or supervision?
- Was machinery, equipment, substances, or plants used at work involved?
- Was the condition of the work site poor when the incident occurred?
If the answer is yes to one or more of these questions, it’s probably a reportable incident.
In a care home, if one of your residents slips and fractures their arm when going to the bathroom whilst the floor is wet, then this is an example of an accident to record. This is a reportable accident since it happened in the care home and is related to the condition of the site, i.e. the floor was in a dangerous condition.
When an accident keeps you or someone you manage away from work for seven days or more, it also becomes a reportable incident. The seven days count from the day after the incident and it doesn’t matter if they are days you or your colleague wouldn’t have worked, e.g. holidays or weekends.
In the sad situation where a death occurs due to a workplace incident, this is also reportable. In your care home, this means that if a resident dies because of a fall they took, for example, this would be a reportable death.
RIDDOR reportable injuries
There are eight characteristics of injuries that would require an accident report. These conditions are:
- Fracturing any bone that’s not a finger, thumb, or a toe.
- Having an arm, hand, finger, thumb, foot, or toe amputated.
- Sight being lost or reduced permanently.
- Being crushed and damaging internal organs.
- Burns covering more than 10% of the body or that affect eyes, lungs, or other internal organs.
- A scalping, or removal of skin from the head, that needs to be treated in hospital.
- Receiving a head injury or suffering asphyxia leading to unconsciousness.
- Injuries within a closed space leading to heat-induced illness, hypothermia, or being admitted to a ward for more than a day.
Death due to a work-related incident also needs to follow RIDDOR procedures and be recorded.
When you or one of your colleagues is injured to the extent they can’t do their normal duties, this also needs reporting. Further, any member of the public, be it residents’ relatives or a GP, who are injured and leave to seek medical care should have the incident recorded under RIDDOR also.
RIDDOR reportable occupational diseases
There are eight categories of occupational illness or disease that are also required to be reported. We’ll give you a full list of them, but not all of them will relate to your work in a care home:
- 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.
RIDDOR reportable dangerous occurrences
As well as times when people get sick or injured in the workplace, there are times when there are near misses. When there is potential for an accident to occur, this will sometimes need to be noted.
In a care home, such incidents as lifting equipment falling over or failing or a fire in the kitchen that makes it unusable for more than 24 hours would need to be reported.
Accident book reports
Just like any other workplace, the care home you work in should have an accident book. It’s a legal document where any RIDDOR reportable situation needs to be noted down.
It’s a requirement that any workplace with more than ten people on the job have an accident book on site.
There are specific pieces of information that must be recorded, namely:
- When – The date and time of the incident.
- Who – The person or people who are sick or injured.
- Witnesses – Anyone who saw what happened.
- What – The injuries that were sustained or illness suffered.
- Why – Everything about the cause and circumstance of the incident.
Anyone can complete the report in the accident book; if you’re taken sick or injured then your colleague can help you. The important thing is to capture all the relevant details rather than who actually noted it all down.
What are the legal requirements?
RIDDOR became law in the UK in 2013 and the regulations are monitored and enforced by the HSE. There are documents that have been produced by the HSE to make the rules clear for both your employer and for you.
There are three main sources of information about RIDDOR procedures. Here’s a brief outline of each, with a link to where you can find the full documents if you need them:
- INDG453 is the document that outlines RIDDOR in full, including all the procedures for reporting and recording accidents at work and what needs to be recorded. The key points from this leaflet have been outlined in this article for you, and here’s the full document.
- HSG245 is a guide for employers and health and safety professionals on how to carry out an investigation in the workplace. It covers how to gather and analyse the information relating to an accident, figuring out controls that can be introduced to prevent future accidents, and creating and implementing an action plan. If you’re tasked with carrying out an investigation into RIDDOR in a health and social care setting, you should refer to the document.
- HSIS1 covers exactly when RIDDOR in a health and social care setting should be applied. At the time of writing, the document had been removed from the HSE website because it needs to be updated. When the new version is available, it should be available here.
When does a report need to be made?
When a reportable incident occurs, it should be recorded as soon as possible. It’ll help to have the situation fresh in the mind of everyone involved.
Legally, the report for an incident or accident must be made within ten days. For an accident that results in you or someone else being away from work for seven days or more, the recording must be made within fifteen days of the incident. The enforcing authority, usually your local HSE office, also need to be made aware.
If someone dies at work or due to an accident at work, a report needs to be made to the HSE without delay. Other major incidents should also be reported without delay, and can be phoned through to the HSE if it’s during office hours.
What happens if I don’t make a RIDDOR report?
Under RIDDOR, there is a responsible person who needs to manage accident recording. That person is the employer, the person in charge of the workspace, or a self-employed person.
If a report isn’t made in line with reportable incidents and the specified time frames, there are legal consequences. A magistrates’ court can impose fines against the responsible person up to £20,000 and if the case makes it to Crown Court, the fine can be unlimited.
It’s also possible to face imprisonment of up to two years for failing to follow the procedures for reporting and recording accidents.
What are employer and employee responsibilities for RIDDOR?
It’s the responsibility of each employer to provide a workplace that’s healthy and safe. As an employee, you’re also responsible for following standard operating procedures correctly and behaving responsibly.
As an employee in a care home setting, you need to report any accident, incident, or illness to your supervisor as soon as possible. You don’t need to make a judgement whether it’s a reportable incident, you can leave that to your supervisor. It’s better to report an incident when it’s not part of RIDDOR, than risk breaking the law.
For employers, there are more responsibilities. Firstly, an accident book must be available at all premises with more than ten employees. An employer also needs to ensure someone is designated as the manager or person in charge of the workplace at all times; this person will be the person responsible for RIDDOR reports.
How do I make a RIDDOR report?
The first step of making a RIDDOR report will be to make a record of the incident in your workplace accident book. Once you have the incident recorded, be sure to assess it to make sure it is a RIDDOR reportable incident.
If you make reports to the HSE that aren’t RIDDOR reportable, you could subject your care home to additional scrutiny. It also wastes the time and resources of the HSE.
Once you’ve got the report fully recorded, the next step of making a RIDDOR report is to report it online. There are different forms to fill out depending on the incident that’s occurred; the links are all available here. Once you’ve submitted the report you will receive an email confirming it’s been received.
For major incidents, such as a death at the workplace, you can call the HSE directly. The Incident Contact Centre is open during office hours – Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm – on 0345 300 9923.
It’s important that your care home has a clear RIDDOR policy. All employees need to understand their responsibilities to report all incidents to allow managers and responsible persons to decide if it needs to be reported.
We’ve prepared a sample RIDDOR policy that you can use within your care home.
Accidents happen in life and at work. Not every accident is preventable, but some are reportable. There are specific instances of accidents, incidents, or sicknesses that occur in the workplace that need to be reported to the HSE.
In the care home that you work in, there will be an accident book where every incident involving a resident or a member of staff should be recorded. The responsible person, that is the manager or person in charge of the workplace at the time of the incident, needs to decide if it’s a RIDDOR reportable incident and report it online, or over the phone if it’s a death or other specified incident.
Be sure to understand your responsibilities, whether you’re working in a care home or have a managerial position. If there’s anything that you’re unclear about, you can contact your supervisor for support or to request more training be provided.