There is legislation in place surrounding the reporting of workplace injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences, and schools are no exception. RIDDOR stands for Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (2013). It is the law that requires employers to report and keep records of any work-related accidents that cause deaths, serious injuries, diagnosed industrial diseases and other dangerous occurrences.
Throughout this blog post we will take a look at how RIDDOR regulations apply to schools and places of education, providing support on how and when to make a RIDDOR report. If you wish to see the legislation in more detail, it is available here RIDDOR Document. It is essential for all employees in schools to know the accident reporting procedure in order to allow for a quick and timely response to any incidents.
What is RIDDOR?
We know that RIDDOR stands for Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations. It is a requirement set by the Health and Safety Executive regarding work related incidents. It applies to staff, students and visitors to the school. If you’d like to learn more about the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), here is a useful link where you can find further information: HSE School Guidance.
As not everything is reportable, it is important for all staff in schools to be aware of RIDDOR guidance, what incidents need reporting and how to report to the HSE. The guidance is in place in order to hold local authorities accountable for incidents that could have been avoided, which will prevent them from happening again. Not only that, but keeping records of incidents allows for in-house evaluation of procedures. This enables the school to continue to progress in terms of health and safety.
Reporting incidents allows for the HSE to explore trends and provide guidance for overcoming such trends in the future. For example, amongst staff in schools 52% of all self-reported work-related ill health involved mental health. In education around 2.1 million working days (full day equivalent) were lost each year between 2016/17 and 2018/19 due to: workplace injury (10%) and work-related illness (90%). Being aware of statistics such as these allows for schools to adapt their practice accordingly. Further statistics surrounding education and RIDDOR can be found here if you’d like additional information: Statistics.
What Must Schools Report?
There can be a lot of confusion about what to report and what not to report, so if you’re ever in doubt, it is important to speak to your health and safety manager. Note any relevant information as soon as you are able to safely do so after an incident in order to ensure that you have accurate details. Even if incidents are not RIDDOR reportable, it is good practice to track and review all incidents in an accident book. This ensures that local authorities and schools can evaluate and update their policies to prevent such incidents/accidents from happening again.
Firstly, in order to qualify as RIDDOR reportable, an incident must have happened in relation to the workplace and its related activities. Consider this, if an asthma attack is triggered by an irritant in the workplace then it is RIDDOR reportable, but if it was triggered by a virus then it isn’t.
There are different requirements for reportable incidents whether they occurred to a member of staff, or a student or visitor. We’ll start by taking a look at reportable cases involving a member of staff.
Reportable Incidents Involving Members of Staff
The responsible person must report work-related incidents to the HSE that:
- Result in death or a specified injury.
- Prevent the injured person from continuing their normal work for more than seven days (excluding the day of the incident).
- Lead to a reportable occupational disease, for which the employee has received a written diagnosis from a doctor.
Specified injuries include:
- Fractures (excluding fingers, thumbs, and toes).
- Loss or reduction of sight.
- Crush injuries that cause internal organ damage.
- Serious burns (those that cover more than 10% of the body or that damage the eyes, respiratory system, or other vital organs).
- Scalping (skin being separated from the head) that requires hospital treatment.
- Unconsciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia.
- Any injury that results from working in an enclosed space and leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness, or resuscitation or hospital treatment for over 24 hours.
These are also reportable if they are the result of non-consensual violence in connection with work in the school. For example, a student injuring a teacher in lessons.
Reportable occupational diseases include:
- Severe cramp of the hand or forearm.
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm.
- Occupational dermatitis.
- Occupational asthma.
- Any occupational cancer.
- Any disease caused by occupational exposure to a biological agent.
Reportable Incidents Involving Students or Visitors
The responsible person must report work-related incidents, which occurred to visitors or students, to the HSE if:
- The incident occurred as a direct result of a work activity or lack of sufficient safety measures in the workplace.
- The person dies or is taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment. It is important to be aware that examinations and diagnostic tests are not considered treatment in this definition.
Students or visitors do not need to have one of the specified injuries in order for these requirements to apply to the situation. Specified injuries only apply to employees.
The incident is reportable if it occurred in relation to:
- Any school activity, both on or off the school premises.
- Equipment, machinery, or substances in the school premises.
- Poor management or organisation of a school activity.
- Poor design or condition of the premises.
If you are on the Early Years Register, you need to notify OFSTED if there is an accident, injury or death to a child on the school premises while they are under your care. If the incident happens off the premises, or to a child not in your care, you do not need to notify OFSTED.
If you are on the Childcare Register, you need to notify OFSTED about:
- Any serious accidents, injuries, or deaths to children or any other person on your premises, whether or not the child is in your care.
- A child’s death that occurs while on the premises or at a later time, resulting from something that happened while the child was in your care.
- Any serious injuries where a child in your care is taken to hospital, either directly from your premises or at a later time, which resulted from something that happened while the child was in your care.
- Any significant incident which is likely to affect the suitability to care for children.
Reporting Dangerous Occurrences
Dangerous Occurrences are also referred to as ‘near-misses’, and also need reporting to the HSE. Dangerous occurrences should be reported no matter who they apply to. It doesn’t matter if it is a member of staff, student or visitor, all dangerous occurrences must be reported.
These include the following:
- Load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment collapsing or failing.
- Accidentally releasing a biological agent that is likely to cause severe human illness.
- The accidental release or escape of a substance that may cause serious injury or damage to health.
- An electrical short circuit or overload that causes a fire or explosion.
If you are unsure of whether you have witnessed a dangerous occurrence, again it is important to speak to the person in charge of health and safety regarding this. Just like with any of the above, note down any important information so that you don’t forget the details.
Examples of Reportable Incidents
Just to clear up any confusion, let’s take a look at some examples of reportable incidents. Sometimes seeing an example can make guidance such as RIDDOR much clearer.
1. Indoor PE Accident
In this scenario, during a PE lesson a student slips on a patch of wet floor and breaks their wrist. As many of you know, PE often takes place in the hall after dinner time which means that the floor is freshly mopped. However, in this scenario it hasn’t been given a chance to dry properly. This is an example of poor management of a school activity and is therefore reportable under RIDDOR.
By logging and reporting this incident, it is clear that the school can make adaptations to ensure that a similar incident doesn’t happen again.
2. Electric Shock in ICT
For our second scenario, we consider a faulty cable that causes a significant electric shock to a student. A teacher had unplugged the fraying wire after noticing that it was faulty. However, they become distracted by another student and therefore leave it next to the plug socket. Meanwhile, a student has a computer which won’t turn on, they notice the cable unplugged and plug it into the socket hoping to rectify the problem. As the cable is faulty and frayed this leads to the electric shock which requires hospital attention. Due to the fact that this incident was caused by poor management of hazards, it is a reportable incident.
3. Swing-set Fall at Playtime
A student was playing on the swings at playtime when one of the chains snapped. This caused them to fracture their ankle after landing poorly. As this was caused by faulty equipment which had not been properly maintained, it needed to be reported to RIDDOR. Similarly, as the pupil went to hospital and had treatment for a fracture, this also classifies it as a reportable incident.
Examples of Non-Reportable Incidents
At lunch time the pupils in a school are able to play tennis. Four students in total use the gym to play tennis. One student sprains their ankle when jumping to hit the ball, after misplacing their foot when they landed. They had to go to hospital, but didn’t require further treatment. The incident was not caused by something related to how the school operates and therefore isn’t reportable.
2. Tripping and Bumped Head
This scenario involves a student skipping at lunch time, they trip over their shoelace and bump their head on a bench nearby. It doesn’t leave a mark. They do not require any hospital treatment, but parents are informed of the bumped head. As this is not caused by something related to how the school operates, it is therefore not reportable.
3. A Sibling Slipped
The final example of a non-reportable incident involves a sibling of a child in your provision. The sibling is under the care of their parents and the incident occurs while they are waiting to pick their child in your class up. The sibling climbs on a metal fence surrounding the playground, slips and cuts their hand badly, requiring hospital attention and stitches. As the child was under the supervision of the parent and not in your care, the incident does not need to be reported to the HSE under RIDDOR.
A final note for non-reportable incidents, just because incidents are not RIDDOR reportable, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be logged in your accident book. Any accidents that take place, even if they are not RIDDOR reportable, should be logged for future reference. Think of the last example, even though it isn’t RIDDOR reportable, we can learn something from it and adapt our practice accordingly. Even something as simple as a letter to parents advising them not to allow their children to climb on fencing while waiting to pick up siblings would prevent the incident from occurring a second time.
How Do I Submit a Report?
If the incident falls into the RIDDOR guidance, it is mandatory that it is reported to the HSE as quickly and efficiently as possible. The wording in the RIDDOR guidance is ‘without delay’, but of course you must deal with any imminent risk first. All reports must be received within 10 days from the date of the incident. The report is submitted here: RIDDOR Report HSE.
The report must include:
- The date of the recording.
- Their personal details (name, job title, phone number).
- The details of their company (name, address, email).
- The location, date and time of the incident.
- The personal details of the person(s) involved (name, job title, etc.).
- A description of the injury, illness or incident.
If you are not the ‘responsible person’, in the case of RIDDOR, the health and safety manager, then your job is to report the incident to your responsible person, who will then submit the report to the HSE. All employees have a duty of care to report all incidents leading to injury, or that were near-misses, to management so that the correct procedures can then be implemented. If you are ever in doubt, report it to the responsible person. It is better to be safe than sorry. Similarly, even if incidents are not RIDDOR reportable, ensure that you fulfil your duty of care by recording them in the accident book.
Each school will have their own health and safety policy, which will follow current guidance and legislation, regarding the procedure for the reporting of accidents in your school. No matter what your job title, following the health and safety policy is mandatory and if you are not aware of it, it is worth seeking out the policy and buffing up on your knowledge.
Legislation around health and safety and reportable incidents can be a bit confusing. I hope that this blog post has cleared it up for you. The one thing I would like you to take away from this article is that if you are ever in doubt, speak to the health and safety manager. Log all of the relevant information and take this to the responsible person, they will be able to advise you on your next steps. If it is RIDDOR reportable, they will take the necessary steps to report it. If it isn’t, they will advise you on how to fill out the accident book if you are not sure of how to do this. Further guidance can be found in this publication by the HSE: Publication.