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April 5, 2012

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Injury reporting regime set to change

The trigger point at which duty-holders must report injuries at work is set to change as of Friday (6 April).*
From that date, the current requirement to report over-three-day injuries sustained by people as a result of their work will change to more than seven days.
It means that duty-holders only have to report injuries that lead to a worker being incapacitated for more than seven consecutive days as the result of an occupational accident or injury (not including the day of the accident itself, but including weekends and rest days). Additionally, employers will also be given 15 days from the day of the accident to report the incident to the HSE, rather than the current requirement to report within 10 days.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, the changes will see a fall of around 30 per cent in the number of incidents that must be reported by law – an average of around 30,000 fewer reports a year. The move is estimated to save businesses 10,000 hours a year.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: “These changes are all about bringing common sense back to health and safety. We want less red tape for business, and these measures should save companies thousands of hours a year.

“We are freeing them from the burdens of unnecessary bureaucracy, while making sure serious incidents are properly investigated.”

The change to seven-day reporting will also align with the ‘fit note’ system, which ensures that someone who is off work because they suffered a reportable injury has a professional medical assessment.

However, duty-holders must still keep a record of the accident if the worker has been incapacitated for more than three consecutive days – a point that law firm DWF is keen to stress. In an update on the changes posted on its website, the law firm says: “Despite not having to provide HSE with reports of ‘over-three-day’ accidents, employers will still be required to keep an internal record of all workplace accidents.
“Moreover, under the MHSWR 1999 businesses have a duty to review risk assessments when the need arises – and, after an accident, that need does arise. Following the changes, businesses continue to be required to report fatal and serious workplace accidents and occurrences to the HSE immediately, followed up by a written report within 10 days of the accident. Employers can be prosecuted if they fail to do so.”
When deciding if the accident that led to the death or injury has arisen out of, or in connection with, work, the HSE says the key factors to consider are whether the accident was related to:

  • the way in which the work was carried out;
  • any machinery, plant, substances, or equipment used for work; and
  • the condition of the site, or premises where the accident happened.

If any of the above factors were related to the cause of the accident, then it is likely that the injury will need to be reported to the enforcing authority. If none of the above factors is satisfied, it is unlikely that a report will need to be sent.

Examples of incidents that do and do not have to be reported are available here on the HSE website, which also contains further guidance on the changes to RIDDOR.
* In Northern Ireland, the changes will not come into operation until April 2013. The HSENI and district councils are working together to consider the merits of establishing a central point of contact for reporting work-related incidents, and believe that such a system should be introduced at the same time as the amendments. The HSENI also recognises that a mid-year change could cause confusion among duty-holders and difficulty in reconciling accident statistics for 2012/13.

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