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Health and Safety: Accidents at work – changes to RIDDOR

Introduction

A reminder that following a review of health and safety legislation by Professor Löfstedt, on 1 October 2013 the most recent Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (“RIDDOR”) came into force. These new Regulations aim to simplify the mandatory reporting of workplace injuries by all employers.

Businesses will be pleased to hear that the changes made to the reporting systems are perhaps best described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Nevertheless, it is important that employers consider the new regulations and guidance in place and ensure that the correct decision is taken when to report a workplace injury.

RIDDOR requires both employers and other persons in control of work premises to formally report to the enforcing authority and keep records of:

  • work-related accidents which cause death;

  • work-related accidents which cause certain serious injuries (reportable injuries);

  • diagnosed cases of certain industrial diseases; and

  • certain incidents with the potential to cause harm (dangerous occurrences).

These reports are designed to enable the enforcing authorities to identify where and how risks arise, and, of more concern to businesses, whether they need to be investigated.

Reporting and recording under RIDDOR, and reporting within the strict time limits, is a legal requirement for employers. Failure to report, or report within the allocated timeframe, is a criminal offence in itself which can be prosecuted in the criminal courts.

Background to the changes

The recent changes in RIDDOR have largely been brought about by two major reviews of the British occupational health and safety system, conducted by Lord Young in 2010 and Professor Löfstedt in 2011. Both reviews highlighted the need to simplify and clarify the reporting and recording requirements imposed on businesses following workplace accidents and incidents.

Of particular concern was the reported misunderstandings and inconsistencies about definitions within RIDDOR, which was leading businesses of all sizes to be confused about when reports needed to me made and in what circumstances.

It was against this backdrop that, in 2012, the government launched a public consultation on proposals to revise RIDDOR and subsequently brought into effect the current regulations which apply to all businesses from 1 October 2013

So what has changed?

The main changes which have been introduced are to simplify the reporting requirements in the following areas:

  • The previous classification of "major injuries‟ to workers is being replaced with a shorter list of "specified injuries‟ – making it easier to understand what injuries actually need to be reported. Some conditions, such as dislocations, have been dropped from the list, whereas other categories have been expanded to provide clarity.

  • The list of 47 different types of industrial disease has been replaced with an easier to digest, eight categories of reportable work-related illness. Employers must report diagnoses of certain occupational diseases where these are likely to have been caused or made worse by their work.

  • The list of dangerous occurrences which require reporting has also been cut. These are now set out in six parts of Schedule 2 of the new regulations.

No major changes have been made to the reporting requirements for fatal accidents; accidents to members of the public and non-workers or where an accident results in a worker being away from work or unable to do their usual work for more than 7 consecutive days (excluding the day of the accident).

The recording of accidents also remains a key obligation. Whilst there are no substantial changes to the requirements to keep records and the details that these must contain, records still must be kept of any accident or incident which has to be reported to the enforcing authority, but also of any accident or incident involving a worker, where the person is unable to carry out routine work for more than three consecutive days. In assessing the time period, you should not count the day of the accident itself but should include any weekends or other rest days the worker may have. You don‟t have to formally report the over 3 day injury unless and until the worker has been incapacitated for more than 7 consecutive days (as described above).

Impact

As is evident from the changes described above, the new regulations have not sought to make substantial changes to the reporting requirements imposed on employers but rather to make the requirements clearer. Any clarification of RIDDOR, which has for years baffled many businesses, is welcomed. That said, as a result of more subtle changes to the classification of certain reportable injuries, it is important that employers understand these recent changes and those pre-existing obligations upon them under RIDDOR in this often overlooked area.

For more information on the changes to RIDDOR or to help understand the requirements for accident reporting, please contact Nick Barker, Solicitor, Regulatory team on 0161 604 1704

By Nicholas Barker

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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