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When should an accident or disease be reported to the Health and Safety Executive?

View profile for Clare Gammond
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When should an accident or disease be reported to the Health and Safety Executive?

When reviewing defendant employer documents for our personal injury clients, we sometimes find that the incident or disease being complained of wasn’t reported to the Health & Safety Executive.

The relevant legislation is the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (‘RIDDOR’). The regulations require a report in the following circumstances;

Deaths in the workplace

All work-related deaths must be reported and this also applies to non-workers. An example of the latter would be a self-employed lawful visitor engaged to carry out work-related tasks or duties. Acts of violence fall under this category but suicides do not.

Specified injuries

The accident must be work-related and the injury type must be a ‘specified injury’ involving one or more of the following:-

  • fractures (other than to fingers, thumbs and toes)
  • amputations
  • injuries likely to cause permanent reduction or loss of sight
  • crush injury to the head or torso, causing damage to the brain or internal organs
  • serious burns or scalds covering more than 10% of the body, or, causing significant damage to one or both eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs
  • scalping requiring hospital treatment
  • loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia
  • working in an enclosed space leading to hypothermia or heat-induced illness, or, requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours

Incapacitation

Regardless of whether it is a specified injury, if a worker (including a self-employed person) has been away from work as a result for more than seven consecutive days, or has been unable to perform their normal duties for the same period of time, a report is required. This period does not include the accident date but does include weekends or any rest days.

If the worker has been incapacitated for less than seven but more than three consecutive days, an employer should keep a record of the absence but is not required to inform the HSE about it.  An accident book entry would satisfy this requirement.

What about members of the public?

An employer must send a report if a member of the public is injured on their premises and has to be taken straight to hospital from the scene of the accident for treatment.

If they go to hospital purely as a precaution i.e. there is no apparent injury but they are advised to get checked out, then a report is not required. If the accident took place at a hospital, it is only reportable if a specified injury (above).

Industrial diseases

The following occupational illnesses and diseases are reportable if clinically diagnosed and likely to have been caused or aggravated by the person’s working conditions:-

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • severe cramp of the hand or forearm
  • occupational dermatitis
  • hand-arm vibration syndrome (also known as vibration white finger)
  • occupational asthma
  • tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm
  • cancer attributed to occupational exposure
  • disease or acute illness attributed to exposure to a biological agent

In cancer cases, the employer only has to complete a report if it is thought their current job has significantly increased their risk of developing cancer. Due to there commonly being a latency period in work-related cancers such as mesothelioma, the likelihood that the person is still working for the same employer will be quite remote.

Diseases are not reportable if there is good evidence the condition is pre-existing, for example, the person had a long-standing history of asthma prior to working for their current employer.

Cases involving exposure to biological agents can involve either an identifiable event - an animal bite or laboratory accident for example - or an unidentified event where the exposure happened without the working being aware of it, such as legionnaire’s disease. Infections commonly found in the wider community are not reportable.

Gas leak incidents must be reported if someone has died, lost consciousness or required hospital treatment as a result. Registered gas engineers are also required to report details of any dangerous appliances or fittings they come across. Separate HSE forms must be completed online.  

Near-miss incidents

Also known as dangerous occurrences, further detailed guidance can be found on the HSE website here. Two common examples include the failure of lifting equipment or the collapse of scaffolding. 

When should an employer send the report?

A RIDDOR report should normally be made online within ten days of an incident taking place. Once completed, the employer receives a copy of it for their records.

For fatal accidents or those resulting in a specified injury, the employer can also call the HSE incident contact centre on 0345 300 9923.

For incidents resulting in a worker exceeding the seven day incapacitation period, these must be reported within 15 days of the incident date. 

Cases involving occupational disease or illness are reportable as soon as the employer gets confirmation of the diagnosis.

If you would like to speak to one of our personal injury or industrial disease specialists please call us on 0175 321 6399.

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