RIDDOR consultation and changes
Employers are legally obliged to report certain work-related injuries or illnesses. These obligations fall under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).
In February this year the Health and Safety Executive began a 3 month consultation on proposed changes to RIDDOR to increase the threshold for reporting workplace injuries to 7 days.
Under the current system, when an employee is absent from work for more than 3 days following an incident, employers are required to report the injury to the relevant enforcing authority – either the HSE or the local council. The proposed amendment increases this ‘over-three-day’ period to over 7 consecutive days.
The change would align the incident reporting threshold with that for obtaining a ‘fit note’ from a GP for sickness absence, and would ensure that someone who has suffered a reportable injury has had a professional medical assessment.
The results of the consultation are yet to be published, but some leading health and safety organisations have flagged up their concerns.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) warned that extending the reporting period from 3 days to more than 7 will make it harder to gather evidence on workplace safety.
Instead it calls for ‘a fresh and more comprehensive approach’ to ensure businesses investigate and ‘learn lessons’ from accidents, particularly small and medium sized businesses.
“Such businesses are in urgent need of clear guidance to improve the level of reporting and to address the fear of attracting unwanted attention from regulators resulting from reporting,” it says.
An alternative approach, it suggests, would concentrate on accidents requiring visits to a GP or Accident and Emergency. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has called for a more radical approach. It suggests that rather than merely changing the threshold at which RIDDOR reports must be made to the HSE, a greater focus should be on employers’ duties to record and investigate injuries, ill health and near misses internally in order that lessons may be learned and similar occurrences avoided in the future.
New reporting arrangements
From 12th September 2011, most reportable work-related injuries and incidents under RIDDOR move to a predominantly online system, through a suite of 7 forms available on the HSE’s website. Employers will no longer be able to report incidents by email, post or fax.
However, the HSE has confirmed that fatal and major incidents can still be notified by phone.
Trevor Carlile, HSE’s Director of Strategy, said:
“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 7 years. Taking advantage of the growing use of the internet allows the HSE to be more efficient in the way it works. We do recognise, however, that people reporting a traumatic event still need that personal interaction so the notification of fatal and major incidents and injuries will still take place by phone.”
HSE’s Infoline telephone service, which currently provides a basic information service to callers, ends on 30th September 2011. Businesses and members of the public seeking information and official guidance on health and safety will instead need to use the HSE’s website.