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May 17, 2011

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SHE11 – RIDDOR change could be backward step, lawyer warns

A proposed change under RIDDOR 1995 to report incidents that lead to a worker being incapacitated for more than seven days rather than three days, as is currently the case, has been described as a potential retrograde move for health and safety.

 

Steffan Groch, head of regulatory at DWF, addressed delegates at the SHP Legal Arena today on the topic of RIDDOR, a week after the HSE’s consultation on the proposal closed.

 

A recommendation first made by Lord Young last year in his report Common sense, common safety, Steffan explained that the Conservative peer had identified a less-than desirable level of compliance with RIDDOR, and that a change in the requirement to report over-three-day (O3D)  injuries to over-seven-day (O7D) injuries might increase the level of compliance by being less burdensome on employers.

 

Steffan said the jury is still very much out on whether such a change would increase compliance, warning, as well, that the message the impact of the change could send to directors is potentially harmful.

 

“The message that this gives to boardrooms is that if an incident results in less than seven days off work, then it is not sufficiently serious to tell the HSE.” He added that boardrooms might look at falling RIDDOR rates as evidence that “things are getting better” and a reason for possibly reducing investment in health and safety.

 

He advised the audience that, regardless of whether the change is brought in, they should continue to investigate over-three day cases to ensure they learn the lessons from all incidents – not least as employers’ insurers want as much information as possible about their clients’ safety regimes to help them defend potential civil claims.

 

“I urge you, no matter what happens, to make sure that your systems to trace and investigate O3Ds, O4Ds, O5Ds and O6Ds are effective and that, even though you might not have to report them under RIDDOR, you investigate them to get information to your insurers,” said Steffan.

 

The dangerous temptation not to investigate such incidents could lead to lower quality health and safety data and lessons for improvement slipping through the net, he warned.

 

For the HSE, however, the move could actually help it funnel its investigations in the direction of the most serious O7D incidents, so rather than an “advantage to businesses”, the change could help highlight poor-performing businesses to the HSE more so than is currently the case.

 

When looking at this alongside the HSE’s cost-recovery proposals, Steffan warned that the HSE needs to issue guidelines to inspectors so that an O7D incident does not automatically lead to an investigation, followed by an enforcement notice and cost recovery. Such an approach “would be a disincentive for employers to report O7D incidents” as they would know that they would have to pay a fee to the HSE post-investigation.

 

Summing up, Steffan described the change as a potential “backward step for health and safety, adding: “It’s another example of the chipping away of what health and safety is all about. It’s a slow erosion of what health and safety is built on – good quality statistics and data.”

 

 

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Azzullah
Azzullah
10 years ago

The change for me makes more sense, no one has looked at the point that when an employee has an accident on a Thursday and is then off friday and returns on a Monday, the accident becomes reportable under RIDDOR yet the employee would not have normally worked the weekend. Where is the line drawn, having to report an injury for a cut finger and the empolyee takes 3 or more days off is a pure waste of time, too many people do not take a common sense approach to reporting.

Cusackm
Cusackm
10 years ago

I think that RIDDOR is a step backwards in terms of mont’ing H&S perfmance. In the construction industry, it is common for back injuries to turn into RIDDOR cases just because the injured wants a week off. To progress H&S, I think following the recordable system would be the bigger benefit.

Obviously, the NHS and insurance requirements need to be looked at before industry can follow the American system.

The first medical system would be a step forward in managing genuine accidents.

Filberton
Filberton
10 years ago

Is not the answer to make 2 changes to RIDDOR, the second being mandatory to investigate all lost time accidents in accordance with HSG254.

Fiona-Burns
Fiona-Burns
10 years ago

As an Advisor, I receive calls re accidents/ RIDDOR from H&S representatives that are not fully aware of the regulations. I agree with Steffan Goch that the reporting period should remain the same as it would not only pooh pooh all previous annual industry specific accident statistics, (that are still used today) but could indicate “wrongly” to employers that O3D’s are less serious. Provide the facts to ALL IOSH members and vote again? Or validate their votes? As an O3D is effectively O5D now.

Janis
Janis
10 years ago

I agree with Azzid (although technically incorrect – OVER 3 days not including incident date). Much of the time reporting is at our discretion following the conversation with the employee – “would you have been able to work if it had been a normal working day?” is often not met with a definitive answer. We therefore end up reporting incidents which in reality probably did not meet the reporting criteria.

Kvnob
Kvnob
10 years ago

I attended SHE11 today and following Judith Hackett’s speech Steffan had a big job on his hands to make his mark. In many ways Steffan’s considered words provoked more thoughts on future issues with RIDDOR, which some may not have considered than the Chairman with respect. Good to attend an intelligent and with a different aspect speech.

Sitesafetynet
Sitesafetynet
10 years ago

Once again the HSE is confusing duty with cost cutting; a 7 day RIDDOR will send the wrong message to companies. Board rooms aren’t interested in health and safety as it is, all they want to do is stop accidents. They don’t look at the whole picture, so NO HSE, stay 3 days, but net 3, not gross 3, otherwise as the writer says, it will send the wrong message; but exclude week-ends, which is what our continental cousins do to massage their figures; including here in the UK.

Thorsfall
Thorsfall
10 years ago

Companies that really believe in creating and having a safe workplace, as we do, investigate all their incidents, from a Near Miss to a Serious Injury. Anyone who waits to find out the outcome of an injury ie the IP was off work for 3 plus days before investigating what went wrong, will miss the valuable opportunity to find out what really went wrong. The quicker you start an investigation, the more accurate will be the ”truth” of the incident and hence provide the opportunity to improve.