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Reporting Accidents And Injuries Not So Clean Cut.

17th December 2013
Where is the dividing line between everyday mishaps and minor injuries at work? At what point is an injury considered serious enough to report the incident and justify making an accident compensation claim?

Everyone is likely to have their own view, which may be strongly influenced by the specific industry or company culture in which they work.

An apparently harmless cut, bruise, knock or falling over may simply be shrugged off and not reported but working with unprotected machinery or exposed to harmful dust or noise everyday can also be easily accepted, especially if fears over saying something may lead to a negative employer response or even dismissal.

Sometimes, a minor injury may develop into a more serious condition and even if the original incident was not reported at the time, it may soon be realised that it will be necessary. Consequently, an employer will then have to officially make a report.

However, it may not be widely known or forgotten that the time scale for accident reporting as required by employers changed on 6th April 2012, which could make it easier to dismiss injury claims for an accident requiring time off for treatment and sufficient recovery.

Over-seven-day reporting...

The over-three-day reporting requirement for people injured at work was changed to more than seven days.

This means under the new regulation, employers only have to report injuries, which lead to a worker being incapacitated for more than seven consecutive days as the result of an occupational accident or injury (excluding the day of the accident but including weekends and rest days). The report must be made by the employer within 15 days.

A ‘record’ only will now be kept of the accident if the worker was incapacitated for more than three consecutive days.

Types of major Injuries and Occurrences...

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) sets out the types of accidents and dangerous occurrences, which must be reported and the timescales. Even though contravention of the act is a criminal offence, late reporting is a common occurrence.

Among the ‘major’ injuries listed by RIDDOR, are:

• A fracture, other than to fingers, thumbs and toes.
• Amputation.
• Dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine.
• Loss of sight (temporary or permanent).
• Chemical or hot metal burn to the eye or any penetrating injury to the eye.
• Injury resulting from an electric shock or electrical burn leading to unconsciousness, resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.
• Any other injury leading to hypothermia, heat-induced illness, unconsciousness, resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.

There are 21 categories of ‘dangerous occurrences’ – or near-misses - that are relevant to all workplaces, and not every near-miss event must be reported.

Among those events which must be reported are the collapse, overturning or failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment and the accidental release of any substance that may damage health.

Click here for further information on what needs to be reported to RIDDOR.