A common health and safety question asked by employers is “What does RIDDOR stand for?”
RIDDOR refers to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, which place a legal duty on employers and other individuals responsible for work premises to report and keep records of certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences.
Do I have duties under RIDDOR?
The reporting duties set out under RIDDOR are placed on the “responsible person” in the event of a workplace accident, disease or dangerous occurrence. Under the regulations, the responsible person can vary depending on the nature of the incident or event to be reported.
The responsible person is often the employer, although the regulations also place reporting responsibilities on those in control of the work premises. RIDDOR also extends to self-employed individuals.
As an employer, it is important to understand your reporting duties under RIDDOR, as any failure to do so can result in serious consequences, including custodial sentences and financial penalties.
What are the RIDDOR reporting requirements?
RIDDOR places a duty to report in the event of the following:
- Where any person dies as a result of a work-related accident. This includes both workers and members of the public.
- Where a worker suffers a serious injury as a result of a work-related accident.
- Where a worker is incapacitated for work for more than 7 consecutive days because of an injury resulting from an accident arising out of or in connection with that work.
- Where a member of the public, as a result of a work-related accident, suffers an injury that results in them being taken directly to hospital for treatment.
- Where a worker is diagnosed with a specified occupational disease.
- Where there is a dangerous occurrence that arises out of or in connection with work.
- Where someone has died, lost consciousness or been taken to hospital for treatment to an injury arising in connection with flammable gas, and you are a distributor, filler, importer or supplier of that gas.
In most cases you must notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) without delay and send a RIDDOR-compliant report within 10 days of the incident. In cases of occupational disease, you must notify the HSE as soon as you receive a diagnosis.
What is a “reportable injury”?
Under the regulations the following specified injuries are reportable:
- Bone fractures other than to a finger, thumb or toe
- Amputation of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe
- Any injury diagnosed as being likely to cause permanent blinding or reduction in sight in one or both eyes
- Any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs in the chest or abdomen
- Any burn injury, including scalding, which covers more than 10% of the whole body’s total surface area or causes significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs
- Any degree of scalping requiring hospital treatment
- Loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia
- Any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space that leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness or requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.
What is an “occupational disease”?
An occupational disease is one that is linked with occupational exposure to a specified hazard. These are only reportable if the employee’s current job involves exposure to the relevant hazard.
The reportable diseases and associated hazards set out under the regulations are as follows:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, where the person’s work involves regular use of percussive or vibrating tools
- Cramp in the hand or forearm, where the person’s work involves prolonged periods of repetitive movement of the fingers, hand or arm
- Occupational dermatitis, where the person’s work involves significant or regular exposure to a known skin sensitizer or irritant
- Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, where the person’s work involves regular use of percussive or vibrating tools, or the holding of materials which are subject to percussive processes, or processes causing vibration
- Occupational asthma, where the person’s work involves significant or regular exposure to a known respiratory sensitiser
- Tendonitis or tenosynovitis in the hand or forearm, where the person’s work is physically demanding and involves frequent, repetitive movements.
As an employer, you are also required to report any cancer diagnosis attributed to an occupational exposure to a known human carcinogen or mutagen, or any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent.
Cases of cancer must be reported where there is an established causal link between the type of cancer diagnosed and the hazards to which your employee has been exposed through work, for example, mesothelioma or lung cancer in a person who is occupationally exposed to asbestos fibres.
What is a “dangerous occurrence”?
There are a total of 27 categories of dangerous occurrences set out under the regulations that can apply to workplaces. Common examples include:
- • The collapse, overturning or failure of any load-bearing part of any lifting equipment.
- • Any plant or equipment unintentionally coming into contact with an uninsulated overhead electric line.
- • Any explosion or fire caused by an electrical short circuit or overload that either results in the stoppage of the plant involved for more than 24 hours, or causes a significant risk of death.
Additional categories of dangerous occurrences relate specifically to mines, quarries, transport systems and offshore workplaces.
What are the recording requirements under RIDDOR?
As an employer, you are also under a duty to keep a record of any fatality, reportable injury, disease or dangerous occurrence.
Further, any accident that results in an employee being capacitated for more than 3 consecutive days need not be reported but must be recorded.
These records must include the following information:
- • The date and method of reporting
- • The date, time and place of the event
- • The personal details of those involved
- • A brief description of the nature of the event or disease.
Any record must be kept for at least 3 years from the date on which it was made, and must be kept at the place where the work to which it relates is carried on.
Penalties for breaches
Any failure to comply with your duties under RIDDOR constitutes a criminal offence, punishable with an unlimited fine and/or 2 years in prison.
It will not be sufficient to argue that you were unaware of your reporting responsibilities under the regulations. To raise any form of defence, you must be able to prove that you had systems in place that made you aware of RIDDOR-reportable incidents in a timely manner.
Potential pitfalls of RIDDOR compliance
Whether or not an incident is reportable under RIDDOR may not always be clear cut, not least in relation to dangerous occurrences. There is no decisive test as to whether an incident has the potential to cause injury or death, and you may need to exercise your judgment as to whether the circumstances gave rise to a real, rather then notional, risk.
Needless to say, any failure to report an incident could still result in serious consequences, even where you have carefully considered your duties under the Act but formed the view that there is no requirement to report.
Caution should also be exercised where the extent of an injury is unclear. Whilst there is no requirement to make precautionary reports, and often the accident will still require reporting where the injured person is incapacitated for more than 7 days, the HSE should be kept updated as soon as a specified injury has been medically confirmed.
Why take professional advice?
In the event that you find yourself the subject of a HSE investigation for a potential breach of RIDDOR, legal advice should be sought from an expert in health and safety law.
Your legal adviser can help you to defend any prosecution, and provide advice as to how to implement new reporting procedures to avoid future issues with non-compliance.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.