From April next year, the HSE is planning to change the way employers have to report employee injuries in the workplace under the RIDDOR guidelines. Businesses will no longer have to report injuries of over three days to the authorities – instead the HSE has recommended an extension to the reporting threshold to seven days, as first recommended by Lord Young in his report Common Sense, Common Safety, published last year.
There has been some debate that these changes could cause some employers to think that accidents causing people to be off work for less than seven days are not serious. There should be no doubt that any injury that causes an employee to be absent from work should be taken seriously – especially as health and safety standards might already be under threat as companies try to cut costs. Deaths in the workplace rose to 171 last year, following a record low the previous year.
It seems that many employers and employees have little knowledge, if any, of what RIDDOR is. With some businesses already sceptical about the world of health and safety, and what they have a duty to report, they are confused about what RIDDOR stands for and how it should be implemented correctly.
Not all realise that incidents such as bruises and burns may not need to be reported if they are unlikely to affect an employee’s work. However, there is a significant list of injuries that need to be addressed such as broken limbs, electric shocks, skin diseases, chemical burns and infections.
These RIDDOR changes present an opportunity for employers to make sure they understand the process, but also to educate their workforce on what is required of them so they are always compliant. There are a number of resources available which will help to guide businesses, including detailed instruction on the HSE website that helps you to comply with RIDDOR reporting. Businesses, both large and small, can also carry out a basic health and safety course to help define the RIDDOR reporting process so it can be communicated clearly to their employees.
The HSE suggests that figures from over three day and over seven day injuries are fundamentally very similar. Therefore, whilst the move is expected to produce a reduction in reported injuries in the workplace, it is not likely to be a major drop. It is fair to assume that we’ll see a fall in the number of reportable accidents in the first year, but we shouldn’t take for granted that this will be due to increased safety rather than the goal posts being moved. In light of this, I am pleased to hear that a review of the change will be held after three years to measure the impact and make further improvements.
Ultimately the success of these changes will depend on establishing a clear understanding of the RIDDOR process, to ensure all employees are aware of what they need to report and how to implement it.