Workplace incidents and fatalities: RIDDOR reporting

Out-Law Guide | 21 Oct 2020 | 4:28 pm | 4 min. read

The UK regime for reporting injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences at work allows enforcing authorities to identify where and how risks arises, and whether they need to be investigated.

Implemented under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA), the 2013 Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) require relevant enforcing authorities to be informed, and records kept, of:

  • work-related accidents which cause death or specified serious injuries;
  • diagnosed cases of certain industrial diseases; and
  • certain 'dangerous occurrences', or near-miss incidents.

"Relevant enforcing authorities" include the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), local authorities and the Office of Road and Rail (ORR).

The responsible person

The reporting obligation falls in each case on the 'responsible person'. While the identity of the responsible person will depend on the particular circumstances, the obligation will generally fall on either the employer of the injured party, the self-employed or people in control of work premises, such as the owner or occupier of the site where an incident takes place.

More specifically:

  • for non-fatal injuries, fatalities and dangerous occurrences, the 'responsible person' is either the employer or, for self-employed individuals or non-workers, the person who was in control of the premises;
  • for occupational diseases, exposure to carcinogens and offshore incidents, the 'responsible person' is either the employer or, for self-employed individuals, that self-employed individual; and
  • for some workplaces, including mines, tips and quarries, a particular person is noted in RIDDOR as the 'responsible person'.

'Work-related'

The requirement to report does not arise simply by virtue of an incident taking place on work premises or because someone had been 'at work' in the period before any potential exposure to or diagnosis of a RIDDOR reportable incident. There must be a 'nexus', or likely link, between the death or serious injury, disease or dangerous occurrence and the work activity or environment that was in existence at the time of the incident. The incident, injury or dangerous occurrence has to be 'arising out of or in connection' with work-related activities for it to be reportable.

Reportable incidents

Work-related fatalities

Notification is required of all deaths, whether or workers or non-workers, which arise from a work-related accident, including violence to a worker; or which are the result of occupational exposure to a biological agent.

Non-fatal injuries to workers

Notification is required where any worker suffers one or more of the following specified injuries as a result of a work-related accident:

  • any bone fracture other than to a finger, thumb or toe;
  • the amputation of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe;
  • any injury likely to cause permanent blinding or reduction in sight in one or both eyes;
  • any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs in the chest or abdomen;
  • any burn injury, including scalding, which covers more than 10% of the whole body's total surface area or causes significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs;
  • any degree of scalping requiring hospital treatment;
  • loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia;
  • any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness or which requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours;
  • where any person at work is incapacitated for routine work for more than seven consecutive days, excluding the day of the accident, because of an injury suffered as a result of a work-related accident.

These injuries are defined as 'specified injuries' under RIDDOR.

Non-fatal injuries to non-workers

Any work-related accidents resulting in injury to members of the public or others who are not at work must be reported if they result in the injured individual being taken directly to hospital for treatment of the injury.

The HSE says: "Examinations and diagnostic tests do not constitute 'treatment' in such circumstances. There is no need to report incidents where people are taken to hospital purely as a precaution when no injury is apparent".

Where the accident takes place on hospital premises, notification is required only where it results in one of the 'specified injuries' above.

Dangerous occurrences

RIDDOR specifies 27 notifiable work-related events as 'dangerous occurrences'. These include the collapse or overturning of lifting equipment, scaffolding or structural collapses; plant or equipment coming into contract with overhead power lines; explosions or fires causing work to be stopped for more than 24 hours; and the unintentional release or escape of any substance which could cause injury.

Occupational diseases

With limited exceptions, notification is required where a diagnosis of a specified occupational disease, likely to be linked to occupational exposure to specified hazards, is received by a responsible person in relation to a worker. 'Specified diseases' include carpal tunnel syndrome; hand arm vibration syndrome; occupational asthma; and tendonitis.

The requirement to notify is generally dependent on diagnosis of the disease by a registered medical practitioner.

Exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and biological agents

Notification is also required where a responsible person receives a diagnosis of cancer attributed to an occupational exposure to a carcinogen or mutagen; or of any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent.

Reporting procedure and record-keeping

The responsible person will often need to notify the relevant enforcing authority using the quickest practicable means without delay; and send a report in an approved manner to the relevant enforcing authority generally within 10 days of the incident (or within 15 days of the accident in the case of over 7-day absences). The HSE has published a guide for those submitting a report to the regulator.

The responsible person must also keep records of reportable incidents. Records must also by kept, but no report made, of accidents which result in a worker being incapacitated for more than three consecutive days.

Records must be kept for at least three years.