Accident reporting is a fundamental aspect of monitoring safety in the workplace. A well-maintained record of accidents and incidents can help employers learn from errors, meet their legal obligations and ensure health and safety at work.

The reporting of diseases, injuries and dangerous occurrences at work is taken seriously by the HSE. Failure to report an accident carries a fine of up to £20,000 in the Magistrates’ Court, or unlimited fines if taken to Crown Court. You also risk up to two years’ imprisonment.

Even when you do your absolute best to provide a safe environment for your workers, sometimes accidents happen. Be prepared and know what your duties are in the event of an accident.

In this guide for HR and managers, we outline the rules on recording health and safety incidents and accident reporting at work.

What is RIDDOR?

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) requires employers to report defined work-related events to an enforcing authority. An enforcing authority will either be the local authority or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Accidents or incidents that must be reported include all fatalities, accidents resulting in any of the listed specified injuries, certain defined, work-related illnesses, accidents resulting in employees being unable to do their usual work activities for more than seven consecutive days, injuries to people not at work causing them to be taken to hospital and certain dangerous occurrences, such as when a building collapses or a gas explosion happens.

Every employer who has over ten employees must keep an accident book or books in an approved format. This also applies to every employer of any premises which the provisions of the Factories Act 1961 and The Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979.

Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, employers must inform an appointed union safety representative after a notifiable accident has happened, to enable the representative to conduct an investigation. Employee representatives who have been appointed under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 must also be informed.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 puts a duty on employees to co-operate with employers to enable them to fulfil their statutory responsibilities. Additionally, the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979 also requires employees to notify their employer, either in writing or verbally, of any personal accident which may cause a benefit to become payable. The responsibility on employees to report accidents is fulfilled if they, or their representative, records the details of the accident in either a book or forms containing the same information.

Employers are also now required under RIDDOR to report certain COVID-19 related incidents in the workplace. These reportable incidents include:

  • Where there is reasonable evidence that a worker who has tested positive for COVID-19 contracted it from exposure to the virus at work. This must be reported as a biological exposure using the ‘case of disease’ form.
  • A worker dies because of occupational COVID-19 exposure. This must be reported as death because of biological exposure using the ‘work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent’ form.
  • An unplanned incident in the workplace resulting in someone being potentially or definitely exposed to COVID-19 by the escape or release of the coronavirus, such as lab testing. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence, using the ‘dangerous occurrence form.’

There is no requirement to report incidents of disease or deaths from COVID-19 for patients, members of the public, care home residents, or service users.

Why report?

Certain accident reporting is a legal requirement. The report submitted informs the enforcing authorities about deaths, injuries, dangerous occurrences, and occupational diseases, so they can identify how and where risks arise, and if they should be investigated. This guides the enforcing authorities and allows them to target their work and provides advice as to how to avoid injuries, work-related deaths, ill-health and accidental loss.

RIDDOR describes an accident as a “separate, identifiable, unintended incident that causes physical injury.” This also includes acts of violence towards people at work. Not all accidents need to be reported. A RIDDOR report is only required when: the accident is work-related, and it results in an injury of the type that is ‘reportable’. When considering if the accident that led to the injury or death is work-related, the issues to consider are whether the accident was related to: the way the work was organised, supervised or carried out, any machinery, substances, equipment or plant used for work, and the condition of the premises or site where the accident happened. If none of these factors apply to the accident or incident in question, it is likely a report will not be required.

Types of reportable injuries

Deaths

All deaths of both workers and non-workers must be reported if they stem from a work-related accident, including physical violence towards a worker. Suicides are not reportable because the death does not emanate from a work-related incident.

Specified injuries to workers

The list of defined injuries in RIDDOR 2013 (reg 4) includes: fractures (other than to fingers, thumbs and toes), amputation of an arm, finger, hand, thumb, leg, toe, or foot, reduction or permanent loss of sight, crush injuries leading to internal organ damage, serious burns that cover over 10% of the body or damaging the eyes, respiratory system and other vital organs, scalping (separation of skin from the head) which requires treatment in the hospital, unconsciousness caused by asphyxia or head injury, and any other injury arising from working in enclosed spaces leading to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or requires resuscitation or hospital admittance for over 24 hours.

Over-seven-day injuries to workers

This is applicable to an employee, or a self-employed worker, and they are away from work or unable to perform their usual work duties for over seven consecutive days. The seven-day period does not cover the day of the accident.

Injuries to non-workers

Work-related accidents may also involve members of the public or workers who are not at work must be reported if the person is injured and is taken from the scene to hospital for treatment to the injury. It is not necessary to establish exactly what hospital treatment was actually provided, and there is no need to report incidents where people are taken to hospital as a precaution when no injury is visible.

Reportable occupation diseases

Employers and self-employed people must report certain diagnoses of specified occupational diseases if they are likely to have been caused by or made worse by their work. These diseases include: carpel tunnel syndrome, severe cramp of the forearm or hand, occupational dermatitis, hand-arm vibration syndrome, occupational asthma, tenosynovitis or tendonitis of the forearm or hand, any occupational cancer, and any disease that can be attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological substance.

Reportable dangerous occurrences

These are classed as ‘near-miss’ incidents with the potential to cause harm. However, not all events need reporting. There are 27 categories of near-miss occurrences that are relevant to most workplaces, and include: the collapse, failure or overturning of load-bearing sections of lifts and lifting equipment, plant or equipment that come into contact with any overhead power lines, fires or explosions causing work to be stopped for over 24 hours.

There are additional categories of near-miss incidents which apply to mines, offshore workplaces, quarries, and certain transport systems such as railways. A full detailed list can be found at the HSE website.

Reportable gas incidents

Fillers, distributors, suppliers, or importers of flammable gas must report as soon they learn whether directly or indirectly, that a person has died, lost consciousness, or taken to hospital for treatment to injuries arising in connection with gas they distribute, fill, import or supply.

Gas engineers registered with the Gas Safe Register must give details of gas appliances or fittings they consider to be dangerous to the degree that someone could die, lose consciousness or need hospital treatment. This may be because of the design, installation, construction, servicing, or modification that may cause: an accidental leakage of gas, inadequate combustion of gas, inadequate removal of products of the combustion of gas, details of which can all be reported online.

Exemptions

Reports are not typically required for deaths and injuries arising from: dental or medical treatment, or an examination undertaken by (or under the supervision of) a registered dentist or doctor; the duties undertaken by a member of the armed forces while they are on duty; road traffic accidents unless it involves the loading or unloading of a vehicle, working next to the road (e.g., maintenance or construction work); or the escape of a substance being transported by vehicle or train.

How to report

Reporting can be done in one of two ways:

Online

This can be done online by visiting the HSE website and filling out the online report form. The form is then submitted directly to the RIDDOR database, and a copy will be sent to you for your records.

By telephone

Generally, all incidents should be reported online, but a telephone service is provided for reporting fatal and specified injuries only. The incident contact centre is open from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.

Reporting out of hours

The HSE has an out of hours’ duty officer that deals specifically with: work related deaths or situations where there is a strong likelihood of death following an accident at work or connected with work; serious accidents at work so that HSE is required to gather details of physical evidence that would otherwise be lost with time; and after a major incident at work where the severity of it, or the level of public concern, demands an immediate public statement from either government ministers or HSE.

Employers’ recording requirements

Recording incidents ensures that employers collate sufficient information to properly manage health and safety risks. This information can also be used to assess risk and develop solutions to potential risks. By doing this, records can help prevent ill-health and injuries, and minimise costs arising from accidental loss.

Records must be kept of: any accident, dangerous occurrence or occupational disease which requires reporting under RIDDOR; any other occupational incident that causes injuries sufficient to be away from work or incapacitated for more than three consecutive days. The day of the accident does not count towards the three days, unless the period of time away exceeds seven days.

For employers who have to keep an accident book, the entries made in this will be sufficient. RIDDOR records must be produced when requested by HSE, local authority or ORR inspectors.

Accident reporting at work FAQs

Why is accident reporting important?

Accident reporting is an extremely vital tool to monitor and measure safety performance. It allows a business, via investigations, to learn from their mistakes and improve health and safety in the workplace.

What type of accidents need to be reported?

A RIDDOR report is only needed when the accident is work-related and it causes an injury which is reportable, including deaths, specified injuries to workers, and injuries that cause the employee to be away from work, or unable to perform their usual work duties, for over seven days.

What is accident and incident reporting?

Accident reporting under RIDDOR legally requires an employer to report injuries, dangerous occurrences (near-misses) and diseases, to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Failure to do so could incur a fine or a term of imprisonment.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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