Common Sense Reforms to Accident Reporting System

In an effort to move towards a more common sense approach to health and safety law, the UK Government has announced changes to the accident reporting regime. These changes were implemented following recommendations made by Lord Young in his report “Common Sense, Common Safety”. The changes are effected by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (Amendment) Regulations 2012 which came into force on 6 April 2012.

Under the previous system, employers were obliged to report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) any injuries at work which resulted in the worker being absent from normal duties for more than three consecutive days. Under the new system, employers are only obliged to report injuries to the HSE when the worker is incapacitated for seven or more consecutive days (not including the day of the accident). Incapacitation means that the worker must be absent or unable to do work that they would reasonably be expected to do as part of their normal duties.

The change will align the reporting system with the current ‘fit note’ system which requires someone who is absent from work because they suffered a reportable injury to provide a medical assessment. Ministers claim that the change will reduce the number of incidents which must be reported by around 30% which will in turn save business an estimated 10,000 hours per year.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling stated “We want less red tape for business… We are freeing them from the burdens of unnecessary bureaucracy, while making sure serious incidents are properly investigated”. According to Judith Hackitt, Chair of the HSE “The change to the RIDDOR regulations will cut paperwork, help employers manage sickness absence and ensure that the reporting system is focused on risks which have resulted in more serious injury”.

A further change is that the timescale within which employers must report such an accident to the HSE is extended from 10 to 15 days. Employers are responsible for keeping a record of all injuries resulting in more than three days of absence.

This requirement remains unchanged and it is therefore still important for employers to log such injuries in some form of accident book.

Jack Boyle
Solicitor – Employment Law

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