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Work-related injuries and incidents reportable under RIDDOR will have to be notified to the HSE via its website from September this year.
However, those reporting fatal or major incidents will still be able to do so by phone, in recognition of the need for a more personal response in such circumstances.
The announcement was made by the regulator a day after the close of the consultation on amending the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 in line with proposals made by Lord Young in his review of health and safety.
From 12 September, a suite of seven forms will be available on the HSE’s website to make the statutory reporting of work-related injuries, dangerous occurrences, disease, and gas-related incidents quicker and easier. Online reporting is also likely to fulfil the main aim of RIDDOR reform, which is to reduce the administrative and cost burdens on both business and the regulator.
Said director of strategy, Trevor Carlile: “More than half of reportable injuries are already notified to the HSE through the website and this proportion has been increasing steadily over the past seven years. Taking advantage of the growing use of the Internet allows the HSE to be more efficient in the way it works.”
He emphasised that because people reporting a traumatic event, such as a workplace death or serious injury, “still need that personal interaction”, the notification of such incidents can still be done over the phone.
In another efficiency measure, the HSE will end its Infoline telephone service on 30 September. Instead, it will be encouraging businesses and members of the public seeking information and official guidance on health and safety to visit its website, which it describes as “a huge knowledge bank where people can access and download information free of charge and use interactive Web tools”.
The website currently receives 26 million visits a year and has 100 times more visitors than the Infoline has callers. It has recently been enhanced with interactive tools for low-risk businesses and an expanded ‘frequently-asked questions’ section.
Jane Hext, managing director of Santia, the health and safety risk-management firm that has operated the Infoline since 1996, expressed concern over the possible “knock-on effects of closing this valuable resource”. She told SHP: “We understand that in today’s current climate of cutbacks, government departments have to tighten their belts. [But] due to HSE cuts, firms will have less assistance to help them through the maze of compliance.”
Ms Hext was also sceptical of the move to Web-based reporting, saying businesses “will no longer have the reassurance of being able to pick up the phone and speak to a knowledgeable person who can help.” She continued: “The Government’s recently published plans, ‘Good health and safety, good for everyone’, talk about making things easier for small businesses and improving access to information. It is hard to see how the decision to close these services squares with this.”