Details of Proposed RIDDOR Changes

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published details of the proposed changes that are intended to simplify the mandatory reporting of workplace injuries for businesses under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) in October 2013.

RIDDOR-Changes

The reform of RIDDOR came out of recommendations in the Young Review in 2010 which were endorsed by the Löfstedt Review in 2011. As a result, a public consultation exercise on RIDDOR started in August and ended in November 2012.

The changes to RIDDOR 1995 are designed to “clarify and simplify” the reporting requirements, while ensuring that the data collected gives an accurate and useful picture of workplace incidents.

The main changes will be in the following areas:

  • The classification of “major injuries” to workers will be replaced with a shorter list of “specified injuries”.
  • The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease will be replaced with 8 categories of reportable work-related illness.
  • Fewer types of “dangerous occurrence” will require reporting.

However, there will not be any significant changes to the reporting requirements for:

  • Fatal accidents
  • Accidents to non-workers (members of the public)
  • Accidents resulting in a worker being unable to perform their normal range of duties for more than seven days.

The HSE says the changes will require fewer incidents to be reported overall and it is estimated that they will result in a net benefit to business of £5.9 million over a 10-year period.

They will not alter the current ways to report an incident at work and the criteria that determine whether an incident should be investigated will remain the same.

To allow businesses time to familiarise themselves with the changes, HSE has published information to support dutyholders with the requirements which, although on track for implementation from October 2013, at the time of writing remain subject to parliamentary approval.

Response

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the construction trade union UCATT have slammed the proposed changes, arguing that they will lead to a further downgrading in safety reporting.

Trade unions have criticised the changes for reducing the number of major injuries which require an automatic RIDDOR report.

A trade union source listed the following injuries as examples of those which will no longer require an automatic report:

  • An electrical shock leading to unconsciousness, resuscitation or admittance to hospital
  • A temporary loss of eyesight
  • Dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine
  • Unconsciousness or acute illness caused by a biological agent its toxins or infected material
  • An acute illness requiring medical treatment
  • Loss of consciousness due to absorbing or inhaling a substance.

The latest proposed changes come just over a year after previous changes to RIDDOR.

As of 6th April 2012, RIDDOR’s over-three-day injury reporting requirement changed. The trigger point has increased from over three days to over seven days incapacitation (not counting the day on which the accident happened).

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said, “The reduction in the requirement to report major injuries is dangerous. Many of these type of injury are potentially life changing for those involved. If companies no longer have to report them then they are less likely to take preventive measures to stop them reoccurring.”

Silicosis

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), the Chartered Society for worker health protection, has expressed concern about the lack of data being collected on long latency diseases such as silicosis and called for a new category of “Pneumoconiosis, including silicosis” to be included under RIDDOR.

During the HSE consultation between August and November 2012, BOHS argued strongly against the original plan to remove the requirement for the reporting of occupational cancers, diseases attributable to biological agents and six short-latency diseases (hand-arm vibration syndrome, dermatitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, severe cramp of the arm, tendonitis and occupational asthma) in the workplace.

The HSE decided to retain this requirement, considering the implications for intelligence gathering. The BOHS’s President, David O’Malley, said, “Even with its limitations, without RIDDOR disease data, fighting for healthier working environments, which all workers deserve, is harder.”

However, while the Society is supportive of rationalising the list of diseases from 47 to 8, the Society is calling for the inclusion of a ninth category of “Pneumoconiosis, including silicosis”.

Silicosis is an irreversible lung disease that can take years to develop and is caused by fine particles. Affected occupations include quarrying, slate works, foundries, potteries, stonemasonry, construction, and industries using silica flour to manufacture goods.

Commenting on the issue, David O’Malley said, “Silicosis is an important occupational disease and area of concern. There is still debate about whether the limit used and the controls recommended are acceptable. Including this in the list sends out the message that this is important and that as a nation, we need to take action.”

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