Health and safety reporting requirements emphasised in HSE decision

Out-Law News | 18 May 2021 | 11:44 am | 1 min. read

The failure to report an accident on a UK construction site has led to a 24-week prison sentence for the owner of a building company, in a case highlighting the need for incidents at work to be notified to the authorities.

Westminster Magistrates Court handed down the sentence following an investigation by the British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the 2019 incident, in which an excavator trapped worker Simon Lewis’s leg and caused it to require amputation.

Paul Adams, trading as Surrey Conversions of Sutton Common Road, Sutton pleaded guilty to a breach of regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013. He received a 24-week custodial sentence and was ordered to pay costs of £2,033.

Adams had not reported the incident to the HSE as required under the regulations, and had not investigated it. The HSE said an investigation was only launched after Lewis complained, at which point it was almost impossible to uncover evidence as the building work at the site in question was almost completed.

The HSE also said there was no health and safety related documentation and no employer’s insurance cover for Lewis to claim against. Adams had not obtained any health and safety related training during his 50 years in the construction industry.

The HSE has emphasised the need to report certain, although not all, cases of Covid-19 during the coronavirus pandemic, but health and safety expert Jennifer Lee of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said this decision was a timely reminder to report work-related incidents under RIDDOR.

“With the emphasis on Covid-19 and returning to work, here is a reminder that the need to RIDDOR report applies to other things too - and failure to report when you should can have serious consequences,” Lee said.

Last year the HSE issued guidance to employers about their RIDDOR duties relating to Covid-19. Analysis of RIDDOR reports by the Industrial Injuries Advisories Council earlier this year found coronavirus had resulted in a two-fold increase in the risk of death for workers in several occupations.