Member Article

Respecting RIDDOR: Clearing Up Confusions Over Workplace Incident Reporting

The most recent Health and Safety at Work Summary statistics for Great Britain were released in November 2020. Some of the key findings included:

  • 1.6 million workers suffering from work related ill health (new or longstanding) in 2019/20.
  • 828,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or longstanding) 2019/20 .
  • 32.5 million working days lost due to work-related ill health in 2019/20, and
  • 12,000 lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposure at work, primarily to chemicals or dust.

These statistics demonstrate just how important the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) are. RIDDOR allows the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to monitor certain incidents. They can then target resources to those areas which need it the most and investigate those cases which are the most serious, identify potential trends, and take formal action where it is in the interest of the public to do so.

The HSE RIDDOR section contains the current guidance on these regulations and Louise Hosking, director at Hosking Associates, sees it as critical reading for employers, managers and employees. She comments:

 “If the regulator becomes aware that an incident has taken place which should have been reported, or if it was reported late, they can prosecute under these regulations.      

“It is not a defence to be unaware of the requirements. The HSE will make a decision regarding prosecution based on a number of factors[1]. However, the HSE does not enforce health and safety in all workplaces. Local authorities have their own prosecution criteria which will similarly be available on their websites. It’s important employees have an understanding of their rights, and organisations and managers are fully aware of their responsibilities relating to workplace incident reporting.”

Any issue which is reported must be “out of or in connection with work” and it must meet one or more of the criteria which is clearly outlined on the HSE website. If, for example, someone is exposed to Covid-19 at work and becomes ill as a result, this is exposure to a biological hazard, which is reportable.

“There are many aspects to these regulations and who is responsible for reporting,” adds Louise, “For example, the person in control of the premises will report incidents involving members of the public, self-employed people, or dangerous occurrences. For all other incidents, the case must be reported by the employer.”

Other examples are as follows:

  • Gas incidents are reportable by a registered Gas Safe engineer.
  • If a contractor has an accident working on someone else’s site and they work for a company it is their employer’s responsibility to RIDDOR report the incident.
  • If a delivery driver has an accident which meets the threshold, their organisation will report it unless they are self-employed. Then it is the person in control of the premises that reports it.
  • If an office worker has an incident in a common part of a building it is their employer’s responsibility to report, even if they are not in control of that area of the building.
  • Conversely, the employer is responsible for RIDDOR reporting if an employee has an accident on someone else’s property.

There are other latent - work related - diseases which may not be RIDDOR reportable. Louise Hosking adds: “I believe this means we do not have a full picture of health-related illness caused by work, so we cannot fully understand the true impact on the health of the nation due to substances or conditions they have been exposed to at work.

“The more comprehensive reporting we have, the better we can understand the current situation, deal with risks, and improve safety at work. Support for those suffering from work related incidents or issues can be improved, thus creating a healthier, safer and happier nation.”

[1] DRAFT Enforcement Policy Statement (hse.gov.uk)

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Hosking Associates .

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