Not all accidents in places of employment are required to be reported, so just what constitutes an “accident at work”?
No matter how careful we are in the workplace, it is inevitable that accidents will happen. Each accident has its own distinctive circumstances which enable organisations to implement appropriate measures to prevent similar mishaps from occurring. Not all accidents in places of employment are required to be reported, so just what constitutes an “accident at work”?
It is common for us to assume that any accident that takes place in a working environment is automatically linked to our job and therefore notifiable under RIDDOR - the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations. However, there must be an identifiable external event or hazard that causes the injury, such as a spillage, falling objects or faulty machinery.
No two accidents are the same, and this uniqueness is best illustrated in RIDDOR’s official definition of an accident:
“An accident is a separate, identifiable, unintended incident, which causes physical injury.”
Three factors need to be taken into account when assessing whether an accident is classed as work-related. Did any of the following have a significant impact on the outcome?
1. The methods and practices applied to carry out the work
2. Any machinery, plant, substances or apparatus used for the work
3. The condition of the site or facilities where the accident happened
Cumulative exposures to hazards, which eventually lead to injury (e.g. repetitive lifting), are NOT classed as ‘accidents’ under RIDDOR.
Establishing a healthy and safe workplace can only take effect if accidents are reported. In most cases, the blaming of accidents will be attributed to the shortcomings of the employer. Improving levels of health and safety at work is paramount to both their productivity and finances, so it makes sense for a company to do everything in their power to keep their staff free from harm and sickness.
This can include anything from scheduling regular PAT testing of electrical devices to ensuring employees have received appropriate training and equipment to carry out their duties.
If the accident fulfils the criteria above, then you should make a RIDDOR report as soon as possible by completing their online form. Only "responsible persons" can fill in the form, including employers and people in charge of premises, and once submitted the report will go directly to RIDDOR's database. It is a legal requirement for work-related accidents and injuries to be recorded, and it could potentially save others from suffering a similar fate or worse.
Safeguarding lone and mobile workers is another important consideration that companies need to bear in mind. Some workers in the likes of factories and warehouses may be left in isolation for long time periods, and individuals in cleaning or caretaking positions may be left alone to complete the final part of their shift. This places them in a vulnerable situation and at greater risk of dangers such as fire and violence.
The foundation of any successful business is priding themselves on high levels of health and safety to protect the wellbeing of those working for them.