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Reporting Accidents at Work

While it is unfortunate, accidents at work do take place. Regardless of the industry you work in there is always the possibility that an accident can happen. This could be because of faulty equipment, insufficient training or negligence such as failure to clear up a spillage or not wearing appropriate equipment. Therefore, to prevent future accidents and to help organisations learn from past mistakes there are certain rules on reporting accidents at work and this is a strict duty placed on employers.

There are two types of accidents that have to be reported; ones that just have to be recorded internally and those that have to be reported externally as well. The general rule is that major injuries (over seven day injuries) should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with those of a minor nature recorded in each employer’s own health and safety records in accordance with their internal policies.

All employers must carry out risk assessments, which include deciding on the number of first aiders required on site and deciding what type of equipment is needed. The risk assessment will usually appoint someone on site who is responsible for health and safety at work which includes maintaining a health and safety policy. Under this policy any injury at work should be recorded in an “accident book”. This is helpful for the both the employer and the employees not only for improvement purposes but also if an employee needs to make a claim for compensation.

The rules on reporting accidents at work come from the HSE, who are the independent watchdog for work place health, safety and illness. Their work on the Reporting of Injuries, Disease, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (DDOR) 1995.  RDDOR aims to put obligations on employers or those in control of work premises (“Responsible Persons”) to report workplace accidents resulting in injury, death, disease, gas incidents and near misses. These reporting requirements extend beyond employees to include visitors to the working environment.

Generally, anything that requires admittance to the hospital for more than 24 hours should be reported to the HSE without delay and injuries which last for over seven days should be reported within fifteen days.

The following is a list of the types of injuries that should be reported, although it is by no means exhaustive:

  • Fractures
  • Amputations
  • Dislocations
  • Eye Injuries
  • Electric Shocks
  • Hypothermia
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances

As far as near misses are concerned, there are rules about what has to be reported and the following is a list of some examples, although this is also a non-exhaustive list:

  • Failure of Lifts or Lifting Equipment
  • Explosions / Collapses of Pipe work
  • Failure of Load Bearing Containers
  • Equipment Contacting Overhead Power lines
  • Electrical Short Circuits
  • The Projection of Material Beyond a Site Boundary e.g. Explosion
  • Release of Biological Agents
  • Failure of Essential Safety Apparatus e.g. Breathing Apparatus or Diving Equipment
  • Collapse of Scaffolding (over 5 meters high)
  • Vehicle Collisions
  • Fires
  • The Collapse of a Structure

There are some exceptions and detailed information regarding the reporting of workplace accidents and this can all be found on the HSE website. Any reports to the HSE can either be made online by completing the appropriate form or over the phone.

The information collected by the HSE helps local authorities and the HSE themselves to identify and prevent reoccurrences.

If you have been injured at work you should bear in mind that you may be entitled to compensation, which will be paid through your employer’s insurance company. If so you should obtain legal advice immediately as any compensation claim must be made within three years of any accident occurring.

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