Addressing injuries in the workplace
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997 (RIDDOR) covers the reporting of work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences.
Reporting accidents and ill health at work is a legal requirement and applies to all work activities but not to all incidents.
Employers must report accidents involving fatal and major injury, dangerous occurrences and reportable diseases to the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) or the local environmental health department of the district council.
Employers who run a business which is office based, retail or wholesale, warehousing, hotel and catering, sports and leisure, residential accommodation excluding nursing homes, or concerned with places of worship should contact the environmental health department.
For all other types of business the employer should contact HSENI.
An employer will need to act if there is an accident connected with work and the employee is killed or suffers a major injury or a member of the public is killed or taken to hospital.
The employer must notify the enforcing authority without delay (for example, by telephone) and within ten days must follow this up with a completed accident report form.
Some examples of major injuries are fracture (other than to fingers, thumbs or toes), amputation, dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine, loss of sight (either temporary or permanent) or an injury resulting from an electric shock or electrical burn leading to unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.
If there is an accident connected with work (including an act of physical violence) and the employee suffers an over-three day injury (including non-work days) the employer must send a completed accident report form to the enforcing authority within ten days.
If something happens which does not result in a reportable injury but which could have done then it may be a dangerous occurrence which must be reported immediately and again within ten days this must be followed up with a completed accident report form.
Some examples of reportable dangerous occurrences are plant or equipment coming into contact with overhead power lines, electrical short circuit or overload causing fire or explosion or the accidental release of a biological agent likely to cause severe human illness.
If a doctor notifies an employer that an employee suffers from a reportable work-related disease then a completed disease report form must be sent by the employer to the enforcing authority.
Some examples of reportable diseases are cramp of the hand or forearm due to repetitive movements, brucellosis, hepatitis, tetanus or rabies.
An employer must keep a record of any reportable injury, disease or dangerous occurrence and keep it for at least three years. It 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.
Standard forms for the reporting of injuries, dangerous occurrences and diseases can be downloaded from HSENI’s website at www.hseni.gov.uk/for ms.cfm or by contacting HSENI.
Further information on all aspects of health and safety is available from your local CAB or from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland on their freephone helpline on 0800 0320 121 or via the website at www.hseni.gov.uk.
Siobhan Harding is an information & policy officer with Citizens Advice.