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RIDDOR applies in nurseries, in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), all employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of those working for them. Yet, in 2018/19, 1.4 million experienced a work-related injury, 111 UK employees were killed at work and 581, 000 sustained some type of injury. In 2017/18, similar figures cost the UK economy approximately £15 billion.
It is fully acknowledged that accidents will always happen, to some extent. But businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they are doing all that they can in preventing them from occurring or reoccurring. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) was first introduced in 2013. There is a common misconception that these regulations are only applicable to warehouses, factories and premises associated with risk. However, this is not the case and RIDDOR affects the vast majority of workplaces. This means that employers are legally obligated to report certain accidents that happen to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This guide summarises the measures, including an overview of RIDDOR procedures for nurseries, potential reportable and non-reportable incidents, and what to do if there is an accident in the workplace. It will outline the specific procedure for reporting RIDDOR incidents, and it will include several examples of reportable and non-reportable accidents as well as definitions of the key terminology.
What is RIDDOR?
RIDDOR is the acronym for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, which were first implemented in 2013. The regulations outline the accidents and injuries that must be reported to the HSE, with the purpose of monitoring accident trends, identifying risks, and investigating serious accidents. RIDDOR simplified the previous regulations by replacing the 46 types of industrial diseases with eight categories of reportable work-related illnesses. It also reduced the list of specified injuries and dangerous occurrences.
It should be noted that such measures are subject to changes and employers should stay up to date with the current guidance. The vast majority of the regulations have not been changed since RIDDOR was introduced, but some amendments were made in 2020 to include specific direction related to COVID-19.
What is an Accident According to RIDDOR?
The HSE defines an accident as a ‘separate, identifiable, unintended incident which causes physical injury’. They later add that there ’must be an identifiable external event that causes the injury’. This injury must have been caused due to the way work was carried out, any machinery, plant, substances or equipment used for work purposes, and the condition of the premises where the accident occurred, or because of dangerous occurrences.
In a nursery, an accident is out of or in connection with work if it relates to any school activity (on or off premises) or how a school activity has been organised or managed.
Accident or Incident?
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. An incident refers to a near miss or a dangerous occurrence. Whereas, an accident is a situation in which an injury occurs.
Who is the Responsible Person?
RIDDOR affects all employers, the self-employed and all people in charge of work premises by placing a legal obligation on the ‘responsible person’ to report work-related accidents. As a result, any serious incident that is RIDDOR reportable should be immediately escalated to senior management.
The responsible person depends on the premises where the individual has been injured and their employer. Usually, for nurseries and Early Years providers, the primary employer at school informs the HSE. However, if a self-employed person or a contractor has an accident, it should be the person in control of the premises.
How Does RIDDOR Apply to Nurseries?
All schools, nurseries and other childcare and education settings should provide a safe environment, in which children can learn and play without risk of harm. However, it remains that accidents can happen, and some of these are likely to be RIDDOR reportable. A failure to inform the HSE of a RIDDOR incident is a criminal offence, and the responsible person may face prosecution. It could also damage the nurseries reputation too and make nurseries seem unprofessional and unsafe.
Employees do not have a legal requirement to report incidents, but if they witness or experience something they have a duty to report it to their supervisor. Regardless, some health and safety training courses include the basics of RIDDOR and it is featured on some first aid courses. Plus, having a basic knowledge of the regulations can ensure that staff are aware of their impact, answer parents’ questions and make suitable records in an emergency.
Accidents in the EYFS
Nurseries also have a duty to ensure that their practice adheres to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS); with sections 3.50 and 3.51 of the Framework setting out your responsibilities as an Early Years provider. Within this, it states that when an accident occurs, providers must keep a written record, have a first aid response in place, and inform parents or guardians as soon as possible. It also states that schools, nurseries and other childcare providers should also notify OFSTED of any serious accident, illness or injury to, or death of any child. You have 14 days to report the incident, and a delay could be considered a criminal offence.
Under social security law, companies should have an accident book if they have over 10 employees or if they own or occupy a mine, quarry or factory. An accident book is an essential document for both employers and employees. It is a formal record which has the potential to hold employers responsible for dangerous practice. Keeping an accident book and recording all incidences can also help to build trust with parents and writing frequent reports will ensure staff are reporting to the appropriate standards.
When you record any accident, the amount of detail that you provide should be correlated with the severity of the incident. Be clear and precise, but make sure you include all the facts. Remember, they might use your report for legal proceedings in the future.
Your report should include:
- Contact details of the injured person and the person filling out the form.
- Details of the accident including the date, time and location.
- A description of the injury sustained, including the type, location and severity.
- A description of the event that happened.
- A description of the injury sustained, including the type, location and severity.
- The resulting actions that were taken, such as hospital treatment and in ensuring the area is safe.
What Must Nurseries Report to RIDDOR?
Under RIDDOR, there are seven major categories of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences; these include:
- Specified injuries.
- Occupational diseases.
- Over-seven-day injuries.
- Dangerous occurrences.
- Accidents involving members of the public.
- Gas emergencies.
In 2018/19, a total of 147 people were killed at work, an increase of 6 from the previous year. All deaths arising from a work-related incident must be reported to RIDDOR, except for suicides. These should be out of or in connection with work, so there is a need to identify whether the fatality was a result of work-related events. In the current pandemic, the HSE has stated that deaths because of COVID-19 should also be reported if the virus was contracted due to occupational exposure.
In 2016/17, there were 70, 116 non-fatal injuries to employees reported, with this figure including specified injuries and those over seven days. The term ‘specified injuries’ has replaced ‘major injuries’ from the previous regulations. There are less of them, but the premise is similar.
The list of specified injuries from the HSE includes:
- Fractures (not including toes, fingers or thumbs).
- Permanent loss or reduction of sight.
- Unconsciousness caused by asphyxia or exposure to a harmful substance.
- Crash injuries that have resulted in internal organ damage.
- Serious burns.
- Scalping (separation of skin from the head) that requires hospital treatment.
- Any other injury that causes unconsciousness requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours or which leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness.
What if the Extent of the Injury is Unknown?
On occasion, employers may not know the extent of the injury that has occurred within the time frame for reporting to the HSE. The regulations state there is no need to make precautionary reports. They also clarify that diagnostic treatment that reveals that the person is uninjured does not count as hospital treatment.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Severe cramp of hand or forearm.
- Occupation dermatitis.
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome.
- Occupational asthma.
- Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm.
- Any occupational cancer.
- Any disease attributed to dangerous exposure to a biological agent.
RIDDOR and COVID-19
In June 2020, the HSE released specific guidance regarding the obligations of employers to report cases of coronavirus that have been transmitted because of occupational exposure.
If there is reasonable evidence that someone is diagnosed with COVID-19 due to work practices, you will need to submit an occupational disease report and if someone has died due to exposure in the workplace you should report it accordingly. This does not necessarily require a positive test result, but there should be reasonable evidence that the individual has contracted the virus because of an event that occurred in or out of a work-related incident. Coronavirus has been included as a notifiable disease, under the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations (2010), but it is acknowledged that there is still a lack of clarity regarding the appropriate response. If in doubt, contact the HSE helpline.
Employers also have a legal requirement to report injuries that have resulted in incapacity lasting over seven days. This is seven days after the day after the injury occurred, and you will need to consider whether the staff member could perform their normal range of duties during that time frame. Reports of this nature should be made within 15 days of the incident.
As listed in Schedule 2 of RIDDOR, 27 dangerous occurrences apply to most workplaces. These are the incidents that have the potential to cause injury or ill health. In highlighting near misses and potential warnings, this enables employers to ensure proactive action has been implemented to reduce the risk of harm.
Some examples of dangerous occurrences include:
- Collapse, overturning or failure of lifting equipment.
- Issues with the pressure system.
- Contact with or issues with overhead electrical lines.
- Electrical incidents that have resulted in an explosion or fire.
- Exposure to biological agents, including SARS-CoV-2 which is linked to COVID-19.
Non-Fatal Accidents to Non-Workers
This category refers to incidents that have involved a member of the public, which includes your pupils. You will need to report it if the accident has resulted in injury and the person is taken for medical treatment directly from the scene. This does not include people taken to hospital as a precaution and ultimately it depends on the severity of the injury. You must again decipher whether this event occurred due to a work-related fault, such as a lack of appropriate supervision or something within the physical environment.
Employers also have a responsibility to report any gas or electrical emergency that has resulted in or is at risk of causing injury. This also means that registered gas engineers are responsible for reporting any appliances or fittings that they consider to be dangerous, with the potential to result in an accident that results in death or serious injury.
How to Make a RIDDOR Report?
Accidents should be reported to the HSE Incident Contact Centre. In most cases, you should make your RIDDOR report online at the HSE website. However, in cases of death or an accident resulting in one of the specified injuries involving a worker, you can also call them on 0845 300 9923 (open Monday to Friday 08:30-17:00). RIDDOR reports can also be sent by post if it is not possible to do them online, and, sometimes, information can also be provided directly to the local authority or the nearest HSE office.
When to Report It?
You should report the event as soon as reasonably possible and there are strict deadlines with severe consequences for those that do not adhere. In most cases, the HSE must receive the report from the responsible person within 10 days. In situations regarding an injury over seven days, you have 15 days. Incidences of exposure to occupational diseases should be reported as soon as the person has received their diagnosis through the appropriate online form.
What to Do After an Accident?
Your first instinct should be to provide an emergency response, with prompt action and first aid response. All nurseries and childcare settings are legally required to have a qualified first aider on-site at all times and they should have a fully equipped first aid kit to hand. Call 999 in cases of emergency, make sure that the immediate area is safe and inform the child’s parent or guardian at the earliest opportunity.
Make a Record
After appropriate medical assistance has been provided, you should record the event in your accident book. Information should always be recorded as soon as possible while it is still fresh in people’s memories.
Your records should include:
- Your details and the contact details of the person injured.
- Date and time.
- The location.
- The event that occurred.
- The injury.
- The action that has been taken at that point.
Employees should inform the management of the event as soon as possible. If it is a RIDDOR reportable incident, they will need to ensure that they report it to the HSE within the specified time frame. A failure to do so is a criminal offence and may result in prosecution. You may also need to report it to OFSTED, the local authorities, any governors, and child protection. Employers should also inform the union safety representative of a notifiable accident prior to an investigation being conducted.
According to the HSE, an investigation should aim to ‘gather and establish the facts’ and ‘identify immediate and underlying causes and lessons to be learned’. In some instances, HSE will investigate the incident. However, regardless, this does not mean you should not conduct an internal investigation at the earliest opportunity; often the findings from these can make the process quicker.
An internal investigation should:
- Identify the primary cause of the event.
- Include witness statements.
- Include an investigation of the site.
- Outline action to prevent reoccurrence.
The HSE is a regulatory body and they have the right to perform inspections and sampling, to take statements from employees and to seek a formal interview with the company, and any of the directors. Their investigation will attempt to decipher whether a ‘material breach has taken place’. If it has, they will also determine whether to begin the Fees for Intervention Scheme and associated charges, but this will only be triggered if there is direct proof of a material breach.
Ultimately, one of the key aims of the RIDDOR measure is to prevent accidents from reoccurring. After an investigation has taken place, you will need to review your procedures to prevent this.
Storage of RIDDOR Records
Your record of the event should include:
- Date and method of reporting.
- Date, time and place of the incident.
- Personal details of those involved.
- A description of the nature of the RIDDOR report.
- Description of the injury.
- Any action that has taken place.
- Any diagnostics and treatment.
- Any supporting evidence.
It is advised that you store RIDDOR records for 5-6 years, but the minimum is three years. This does not impact the amount of time information must be stored in accordance with the EYFS, with the framework taking precedence. Furthermore, all of the information should be stored according to the GDPR, which states that you are responsible for the safety and security of that personal information.
Examples of Incidents and Accidents in nurseries
Below you will explore some examples of incidents and accidents in nurseries.
Bone Fracture Injuries
If the work-related injury is not the toes, fingers or thumb, a bone fracture injury is RIDDOR reportable when it happens to a worker. If a child falls or slips, this is generally an accident and is not reportable unless it is due to a failure within the provision of work. This could include danger in the physical environment, such as a cracked pavement flag, or a lack of appropriate supervision.
Acts of non-consensual violence are specifically mentioned within RIDDOR. These should be reported if the violence has resulted in one of the specified injuries, or death, and it is work-related.
Children fall over and there will always be accidents in the playground. As previously mentioned, for an accident to be RIDDOR reportable it has to be an identifiable external cause connected to the work.
Again, the majority of asthma attacks should not be reported to RIDDOR. However, if the attack was triggered by an irritant within the school environment, a report needs to be made.
The vast majority of sports injuries that a nursery sees each year will hopefully not be RIDDOR reportable. However, it should be noted that any sports injury that does occur must be unrelated to how the school manages risks. If it has occurred due to issues with this, it needs to be reported.
This guide has provided an overview of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), with specific reference to their relevance in nurseries and other Early Years settings. Essentially, they are about keeping everybody safe. Providers have a responsibility to maintain their records, ensure they meet first aid requirements, and report incidences as outlined above.