How does RIDDOR apply to children in education?
Accidents involving children can happen in the most cautious of environments, and that includes educational establishments such as nurseries, schools and colleges. If a child or student is involved, it is important to know how to respond appropriately, by recording and reporting the incident to the Health & Safety Executive, according to RIDDOR.
Recording and reporting accidents and ‘near misses’ is important for a number of reasons.
In addition to the obvious duty of care for the continued safeguarding of children, there’s also the issue of potential insurance claims by parents whose confidence in their child’s school to be able to operate safely may be too low.
This raises a wider question about parent responsibilities for teaching their children safe behaviours from an early age.
Reporting accidents and other incidents at school under RIDDOR is also important for spotting trends and preventing such accidents from occurring going forward.
What must be reported under RIDDOR?
The requirements surrounding reportable incidents under RIDDOR are quite clear, as are the consequences of failing to report a case: your nursery, school or college would be in breach of the law with potentially serious consequences for the establishment.
In any event, proper recording and reporting should form part of your official health and safety policy and procedures, with periodic reviews highly recommended to help you identify and correct any safety issues where necessary.
- Cases involving children/students are reportable to HSE if an accident, injury or death occurred as a direct consequence of a school activity or lack of sufficient safety measures, and/or the child was taken directly to hospital for treatment. Reportable incidents cover any school activity, whether on or off the premises.
- Childminders and childcare providers on the Early Years Register must notify Ofsted if an accident, injury or death affected a child in your care while on the premises.
- Childminders and childcare providers on the Childcare Register must notify Ofsted if a serious accident, injury or death occurred to any child on the premises (whether or not in your care), a serious injury requiring hospital treatment, or death, occurred resulting from something that happened while the child was in your care, and any other significant incident that may affect your suitability to care for children.
- Dangerous occurrences or ‘near misses’ are also reportable if they relate to the failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment, accidental releases of toxic biological agents or other substances that are hazardous to health, or electrical circuit failures resulting in a fire or explosion.
Examples of reportable incidents involving children in education
Types of incidents that must be reported under RIDDOR:
- School playground accident: A pupil falls off the swings when a chain snaps and he lands badly, later receiving hospital treatment for a broken ankle. Poor maintenance of the playground swings is to blame, which is a reportable incident.
- PE lesson accident: A pupil slips on a wet gym floor, fracturing her wrist as a result. The cause of the accident was the freshly mopped floor that hadn’t been given enough time to dry before the lesson. Poor management of a school activity is to blame, which is a reportable incident.
- Electric shock accident: A faulty computer cable was unplugged by the IT teacher during a lesson but accidentally plugged back in by a student who receives an electric shock requiring hospital treatment. Poor management of a hazard at school is to blame, which is a reportable incident.
What does not require reporting under RIDDOR?
Incidents that don’t need to be reported under RIDDOR include:
- Pre-existing medical conditions that are triggered by something NOT related to how the educational establishment operates
- Precautionary hospital visits
- Sports injuries caused by normal ‘rough and tumble’ rather than as a result of the school’s risk management
- Playground accidents due to slips, trips, falls or collisions unrelated to student supervision or the physical condition of the premises
- Violence between students
- Injuries occurring as a result of a road traffic accident while travelling on a school bus. This type of incident is investigated by the police.
- Any incidents involving students on overseas trips or on work placements
Example of a non-reportable incident:
While playing tennis on the school’s tennis courts during a lunch break, one student misplaces their footing during a volley and sprains their ankle, as confirmed by a subsequent hospital x-ray. Since the injury was not the result of any related to how the educational establishment operates, this is a non-reportable incident under RIDDOR.
How to report an accident at school under RIDDOR
If a reportable incident has taken place, the responsible person must record it in a suitable format internally, such as a school accident book, as a matter of priority. Here’s a good example, courtesy of Buckingham Preparatory School. Accident records must be kept for at least three years, electronically or in hardcopy, and can be inspected by, for instance, the National Educational Union’s safety representatives to check for your compliance with recording responsibilities.
A formal RIDDOR report must be submitted within 10 days of the incident and include all the necessary information contained in the internal accident record including the date, time and location of the incident; contact details of the educational institution; personal details of the affected child and a full description of the accident or injury.
Children injuring themselves at school or nursery may be a daily fact of growing up but, sadly, there are situations in a school environment when a child may suffer more serious injuries as a result of negligence including faulty or badly maintained equipment, slippery or defective flooring, undercooked or contaminated canteen food or a lack of supervision.
While all childcare providers, schools and other educational institutions have a vested interest to provide a safe environment for the children in their care, RIDDOR offers an important framework for ensuring standards of safety are met. It is heartening to see educators taking their responsibility seriously, with many voluntary initiatives involving regular policy reviews, first aid training provision for staff and students and encouraging the involvement of student health & safety reps.
For further information on reportable incidents, click here.
To access a template for carrying out health and safety audits, click here.
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