RIDDOR allows the HSE to monitor certain incidents which, in turn, means they can target resources to those areas which need it the most. It also allows them to 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. Information is publicly available so it helps businesses too. The most recent Health and safety at work – Summary statistics for Great Britain were released in November 2020.
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 – see the Enforcement Policy Statement on the HSE website. The HSE does not enforce health & safety in all workplaces. Local authorities have their own prosecution criteria which will similarly be available on their websites.
The HSE website contains very clear information and guidance on the issues which are reportable and how to report, with specified timelines. This is also where forms are located to complete the notification. The HSE RIDDOR section contains the current guidance on this regulation. 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.
These include but are not limited to:
- Specified injuries
- An accident which means someone cannot undertake their normal duties as a result of an injury for 7 days. This is reportable within 15 days.
- Non-fatal accidents to someone who is not employed which results in them going directly to hospital (e.g. member of the public)
- Certain occupational diseases including diseases associated with biological agents
- Specified dangerous occurrences (near misses)
- Gas incidents.
Gas incidents are reportable by a registered Gas Safe engineer. This will be where there has been an injury or death due to exposure to gas; or where they have identified a gas appliance which is in a dangerous condition likely to lead to serious injury or death.
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.
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. Similarly, if a delivery driver has an accident which meets the threshold, their organisation will report it unless they are self-employed and 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.
In practice, organisations can obtain useful information from accidents, ill health data, and near misses which occur in their organisations. This is why internal incident reporting arrangements go further than this. Under other legal requirements, any incident to a worker which incapacitates them for 3 days must be recorded e.g. in an accident book.
Out of or in connection with work
Incidents must be work-related to meet the reportable threshold. Therefore, if someone is unwell or following investigation the accident is not work-related, this is not reportable.
Examples could be someone having a heart attack on site and having to go to hospital or being off work.
There are certain, listed, reportable occupational diseases for example hand-arm vibration. These are reportable if they have been diagnosed by a doctor. Even then an investigation would accompany this to determine if it is out of or in connection with work as it could be due to activities outside of the workplace.
By the same token, if someone is exposed to Covid-19 at work and becomes ill as a result this is exposure to a biological hazard, which is reportable. As above, this must have been diagnosed by a test and it is only reportable if it has been determined it was clearly contracted at work. Exposure to the disease outside of work is not RIDDOR reportable because it is not work-related. The HSE guidance information in respect of this and the full detail should be considered. In determining if the disease was contracted out of or in connection with work information which is reasonably available should be considered. For example, was the individual working where there is an increased risk of infection, such as work with others carrying the infection? Was there an event or situation which increased risk?
These are near-miss incidents and examples include:
- Collapse or failure of a load-bearing part of lifting equipment
- Electrical incidents which result in fire or explosion
- Plant or work equipment coming into contact with power lines
- The complete or partial collapse of scaffold over 5m in height
- An unintentional structural collapse in connection with construction work.
A full list is contained on the HSE website. Only those incidents which match the criteria are RIDDOR reportable. A serious near-miss may occur in the workplace which internally requires investigation but unless it is a defined dangerous occurrence it is not reportable under these regulations.
What Isn’t Included?
There has been a long-running debate about road traffic accidents involving people at work. These are not currently RIDDOR reportable but employers still have a duty of care to their teams and most organisations will internally report these cases.
Work-related stress is not reportable because it is not a defined injury. We know, even before the pandemic, lost work time due to stress has been increasing. Statistics in relation to this are currently collated by a Labour Force Survey and there has been a sharp increase in the 2019/2020 figures which only include one month of the pandemic.
Similarly, there are other latent work-related diseases which may not be RIDDOR reportable. 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.