What is RIDDOR?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the core UK legislation on safety in the workplace. The Act is very broad in its coverage, and is supported by 13 further pieces of safety law which are relevant to all workplaces, and which need to understood by employers and employees.
The topics covered include risk assessments, health and welfare, and safety equipment, as well as reporting, which is covered by RIDDOR. The national regulator for health and safety is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As well as legislation, HSE issue guides relevant to specific workplaces.
RIDDOR places a legal requirement on employers to maintain records of:
- accidents at work which result in death
- accidents at work which cause certain serious injuries
- the occurrence of a specified range of industrial diseases
- incidents with could, potentially, have caused actual harm
There is a set approach for RIDDOR reporting, and every employer is duty bound to ensure that, within their organisation, there is clear responsibility for ensuring that RIDDOR procedures are followed. Ultimately, however, the buck stops with directors for any breaches of the rules.
What does RIDDOR stand for?
RIDDOR is short for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
Introduced in 1995, the regulations lay down a structured approach to the way health and safety-related issues are reported by employers. Previously, the government had passed reporting legislation in 1980, known as The Notification of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (NADOR). RIDDOR was revised in 2013 and introduced a simplified approach to reporting, without diluting the obligations which apply to every UK organisation.
The way we work, and the equipment we use, is constantly evolving. So, it’s no surprise that legislation changes too, sometimes through amendments to existing laws, sometimes through new ones being introduced. Updates to HSE guidance are also regularly issued.
RIDDOR and health and safety legislation
Since its introduction, RIDDOR has been a core part of health and safety legislation, and marks another step in the development of the laws on workplace safety. It brings clarity on the steps to follow for recording and following up on reportable incidents. In addition to helping employers to fulfil their legal obligations, following RIDDOR processes also demonstrate that an organisation is fulfilling its overall duty of care for its workforce.
RIDDOR goes hand-in-hand with other fundamental activities such as risk assessments, including risk assessments for lone workers. The value of risk assessments cannot be overstated and carrying them out is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Understanding what can go wrong is an essential first step to preventing accidents and dangerous occurrences. The regulations also make employers responsible for taking appropriate measures, for appointing competent people to carry them out, and to provide the necessary training. Like risk assessments, health and safety training is a legal necessity, and is an essential part of a complete approach to keeping workers safe.
Why is RIDDOR important?
It’s clear that RIDDOR helps to create higher standards of health and safety in UK workplaces. To put the regulations in the context of the history of health and safety, they enshrine the keeping of accurate records of events which result in injury or death as a legal principle.
The existence of records about what happens at work has helped to drive change, and to reduce the overall number of accidents and injuries. The long term trend for workplace injuries continues to fall. Between 1995 (the introduction of RIDDOR) and 2021, and the rate of fatal occurrences dropped by 65%, with a similar drop in non-fatal injuries.
Of course, the improvements in worker safety are not all because of RIDDOR alone, but it is a major part of them. On top of the legislation, HSE guidance on specific topics and for specific industries makes a significant contribution, taking into account changes in the workplace such as the increase in home working.
When an incident occurs, RIDDOR requires the details to be recorded in an accident book at the workplace, and on the appropriate HSE online form.
The accident book provides a written record of occurrences involving employees, contractors and visitors. The details which need to be provided include when, where and how the accident happened, what injuries were suffered, and recommendations to stop a repeat.
Any employee, including anyone who has suffered an injury, can fill in a report in the accident book. Personal details of the injured party have to be included within GDPR (General Data and Privacy Regulation) guidelines. The accident book can easily be shared with health and safety representatives and inspectors, as required.
RIDDOR reports should only be completed by a ‘responsible person’ which means an employer, a self-employed person or whoever is in control of work premises. Employees and visitors can also file a RIDDOR report, but need to follow the specific advice on the HSE website.
RIDDOR reports are usually filed online with separate web-based forms for injuries, dangerous occurrences, diseases and gas-related occurrences. Reports have to be submitted within 10 days. See more details on RIDDOR reporting here
What is covered by RIDDOR?
RIDDOR in its current form covers any death at work, and a range of specific injuries, incidents and dangerous occurrences, including:
- injuries such as fractures, crushing and burns
- occupational diseases such as asthma, severe cramp and tendonitis
- dangerous occurrences including explosions, fires, collapse of scaffolding and collisions
The HSE publishes a comprehensive list of reportable incidents, including precise details of the injuries and incidents which need to be reported.
What are RIDDOR employer responsibilities?
As an employer, you are a ‘responsible person’ under RIDDOR. That means you are legally required to report all incidents to the HSE. You are also responsible for making sure that whatever caused the incident is removed and that risks are minimised as much as possible.
You should also make sure that any fatality, major injury or dangerous occurrence is reported in less than 10 days, although it is always advisable to report as quickly as possible so you don’t miss deadlines.
You have to be able to produce RIDDOR records when asked by HSE or your local authority or, if the occurrence falls under their remit, inspectors from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR). Don’t forget that RIDDOR responsibilities go together with other employer responsibilities under the Health and Safety Act including:
- risk assessments which identify how workers could be harmed
- controlling risks
- making clear who is responsible for taking precautions to avoid harm
- consulting with workers and representatives
- providing health and safety training, sanitation and first-aid
- providing insurance for workers
What happens if an employer fails to comply with RIDDOR?
Every employer needs to understand that RIDDOR is a non-negotiable part of health and safety law, and that failure to report an incident is an offence. In cases where there is a failure to comply, there can be serious consequences.
- Individual board members are legally liable, and if you fail to report an accident or event, you may be taken to court by HSE or your local authority and risk damage to your business, reputation and earnings.
- If the same dangerous incidents occur repeatedly, there is every chance you will be sued for negligence.
- There are serious consequences for both organisations and individuals – potentially involving sanctions such as fines, imprisonment and disqualification
- Any health and safety offence can result in prosecution under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
- Ignorance of health and safety considerations are not a defence
- If guilty, responsible persons can be fined or imprisoned, and directors disqualified under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, section 2(1)
- If guilty of gross negligence manslaughter punishment could be an unlimited fine and a maximum of life imprisonment.
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“Helen has worked within the lone worker industry for nearly a decade. During that time she has written extensively about health and safety, risk, legislation, and lone working – including the Lone Worker Landscape Report.
Helen’s background is in marketing for start-ups and SMEs, where she has enjoyed working as part of the leadership team to grow the business. Outside of work, Helen is a mum of two and loves to drink wine in peace.”
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