Why should employers report accidents?
Reporting accidents and ill-health at work is a legal requirement. The information enables the enforcing authority to identify where and how risks arise and whether they need to be investigated. It allows the enforcing authority to target their work and provide advice about how to avoid work-related deaths, injuries, ill-health and accidental loss.
Who is the enforcing authority
The Enforcing Authority is either the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) or the local council in whose area the incident occurred.
Since 1 April 2013, employers have the option to report all work-related incidents to HSENI regardless of who the relevant enforcing authority is for the business. HSENI will process all forms onto its RIDDOR database and where applicable, forward on to the appropriate local council to register and process in the normal way.
Who do the Regulations apply to?
The Regulations apply if you are an employer, self employed or in control of work premises.
When a self employed person is injured while working for a sub-contractor on a large building site, controlled by a main contractor, the main contractor must report the incident. If the injured self-employed person is working in their own premises, or in other premises under their control, they must report the injury.
When does an employer need to act?
If there is an accident connected with work and:
- the employee or a self employer person working on your premises is killed or suffers a major injury; or
- a member of the public is killed or is taken to hospital
You must notify the enforcing authority without delay for example by telephone and follow this up by completing an accident report form known as the NI2508 form. This form should be submitted within 10 days.
What is a major injury?
The following list provides examples of major injury:
- fracture other than to fingers, thumbs or toes
- dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spins
- loss of sight
- chemical or hot metal burn to the eye
- unconsciousness caused by asphyxia or exposure to harmful substance or biological agent
Over three day injuries
If there is an accident connected with work and an employee or self employed person working on your premises, suffers an over three day injury, you must send a completed accident report form (NI 2508) to the enforcing authority. An over-the-three-day injury is one which is not major but results in the injured person being away from work, or unable to do their normal work or full range of work for more than three days (including non work days).
When calculating over three days, the day of the accident should not be counted, only the period after it. Any days the injured person would not normally have been expected to work, such as weekends, rest days or holidays, must be included.
Some situations will include days when the injured person would not normally have been expected to work. Determining whether they would have been unable to do their normal range of duties for more than three consecutive days may involve a degree of judgement. It may be necessary to ask the injured person if they would have been able to carry out all of their duties if they had been at work.
Example of over three day injury
An employee normally works Monday to Friday, is injured on the Thursday and returns to work the following Tuesday. The days counted would be:- Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, making a total of four days when they would have been unable to work because of the injury. In this instance the injury must be reported.
If something happens which does not result in a reportable injury, but which clearly could have done, then it may be a dangerous occurrence which must be reported immediately for example by telephone. An employer must then follow this up with a completed accident report form (NI 2508).
What are reportable dangerous occurrences?
The following list provides examples of dangerous occurrences:
- Collapse, overturn or failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment
- Explosion, collapse or bursting of any closed vessel or associated pipework
- Failure of and freight container in any of its load bearing parts
- Plant or equipment coming into contact with overhead power lines.
- Electrical short circuit or overload causing a fire or explosion.
- Any unintentional explosion, misfire, failure of detonation to cause the intended collapse, projection of material beyond a site boundary, injury caused by an explosion
- Accidental release of a biological agent likely to cause severe human illness
- Failure of industrial radiography or irradiation equipment to de-energise or return to its safe position after the intended exposure period
- Malfunction of breathing apparatus while in use or during testing immediately before use
- Failure or endanger of diving equipment, the trapping of a diver, an explosion near a diver or an uncontrolled ascent
- Collapse or partial collapse of a scaffold over 5 metres high or erected near water where there could be a risk of drowning after a fall
- Unintended collision of a train with any vehicle
- Dangerous occurrence at a well (other than a water well)
- Dangerous occurrence at a pipeline
- Failure of any load bearing fairground equipment or derailment or unintended collision of cars or trains
- A road tanker carrying a dangerous substance overturns, suffers serious damage, catches fire or the substance is released
- A dangerous substance being conveyed by road is involved in a fire or is released
- Unintended collapse of: ant building or structure under construction, alteration or demolition where over five tonnes of material falls; a wall or floor in a place of work; any false work
- Explosion or fire causing suspension of normal work for over 24 hours
- Sudden uncontrolled release in a building of: 100 kg or more of flammable liquid; 10 kg of flammable liquid above its boiling point; 10 kg or more of flammable gas; or of 500 kg of these substances if the release is in the open air
- Accidental release of any substance which may damage health
If a doctor notifies an employer that an employee suffers from a reportable work-related disease then the employer must send a completed disease report form to the enforcing authority. The reportable diseases are listed in the booklet accompanying the Regulations.
Employers must keep a record of any reportable injury, disease or dangerous occurrence. This must include the date and method of reporting, the date, time and place of the event, personal details of those involved and a brief description of the nature of the event or disease. The record can be kept in any form for example by keeping copies of completed report forms in a file, or recording the details on a computer.
How long should you retain RIDDOR reports?
RIDDOR reports should be kept for a minimum of three years, however an employee who is likely to claim compensation for an injury at work must generally bring a claim within three years of an accident or injury. You should note that work-related medical claims can take years to manifest themselves and here the employee must initiate a claim within three years from the date the employee became aware of the condition. Consequently where employees are exposed to substances with a long latency period records may be required to be kept for periods longer than three years.
More information is available from the HSENI 'Report an incident' webpage found at the following link:
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997
- The Health and safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978
Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.