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Change in notification of workplace accidents

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After 16 years, the rules on when a workplace accident needs to be notified to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR are changing.

From 6 April 2012, new rules will apply on when organisations must report accidents and incidents which occur in the workplace. The change is being introduced as part of the Government’s commitment to reducing the health and safety burden on businesses with the aim of less frequent reporting of minor accidents.

The key changes

• Employers will only have to report over 7-day injury absences rather than the current over 3-day injury absence trigger; and

• Employers will also be given 15 days from the day of such an accident to formally report the incident to the HSE. This is also an extension from the current 10 day requirement. An over 7-day injury is one which is not major but does cause the injured person to be absent from work or unable to do the full range of their normal duties for more than seven consecutive days. This does not include the day of the accident but does include any weekends, holidays or any other days the employee would not normally work.

After 6 April 2012, businesses will still be required to report fatal and serious workplace accidents to the HSE immediately, and follow up with a written report within 10 days of the accident. As before, employers can be prosecuted if they fail to make the necessary reports within the permitted timescales.

What does this mean for you?

The aim of the change is to ensure that organisations need only formally report the more serious workplace accidents. Businesses have found themselves having to report minor injuries – injuries to which RIDDOR was not meant to apply. As well as placing unnecessary reporting burdens on businesses, it is arguable that accident statistics had become an inaccurate reflection of true safety performance.

The changes to RIDDOR will result in a significant reduction in the reporting of less serious accidents. From April 2012, your organisation’s reporting procedure will need to be updated and those responsible for making the formal reports required by RIDDOR will need to be trained on the new requirements.

Importance of internal investigations

Notwithstanding the criticisms above, RIDDOR can be a good general indicator of the safety performance of a company as the information can be put to good use by companies and insurers to identify key hazards within organisations and help focus on incident reduction efforts.

It is worth remembering that just because a workplace accident no longer needs to be reported, or does so but at a later date, this does not mean that a claim for personal injury will not be brought, or that the HSE will not subsequently become aware of the accident and investigate or that valuable lessons cannot be learnt from the incident.

Businesses must therefore ensure that they continue to thoroughly investigate all accidents, regardless of the changes to RIDDOR. Without having such information, your business could find itself on the back foot and unable to protect itself from the wide range of knock on effects, such as a HSE prosecution, employee personal injury claims and/or adverse publicity.

Source – www.brabnerschaffestreet.com

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