Accidents in the workplace
Reporting and recording accidents
It is a legal requirement for employers to record and report accidents in the workplace that involve death, serious injury, diagnoses of industrial diseases and some ‘dangerous occurrences’ (near-miss incidents). They must also keep a record of accidents and injuries at work which cause a worker to be absent or incapacitated (unable to do the work they would reasonably be expected to do in their job) for more than three days (including weekends). If the worker is absent or incapacitated for more than seven days, the employer must report the accident. They must make this report within 15 days of the accident.
The records, known as RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), must be made available to the Health and Safety Executive or local authorities if requested.
What sort of injuries should be reported?
Serious injuries can include:
- Fractured limbs
- Dislocated shoulder, hip, knee or spine
- Loss of sight
- Chemical burns to the eye
- Electric shocks
- Accidents causing unconsciousness, hypothermia, heat-induced illness, resuscitation or admittance to hospital for longer than 24 hours
- Acute illness requiring medical attention
For a more in-depth look at types of injuries and dangerous occurrences, read the HSE guide to RIDDOR.
Who is responsible for health and safety at work?
Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees, contractors and visitors. They must carry out regular risk assessments to ensure all machinery and tools are safe for use, that the workplace is safe and does not pose a risk to health and that there is adequate first-aid equipment and first aiders to administer it.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 lays out the legal responsibilities of employers to their workers and visitors.
Time-limits in making personal injury claims
If you have suffered an injury through an accident at work and intend to make a personal injury claim, you must do so within three years of the accident taking place, or within three years or you learning that your injury was caused by a workplace accident. If you do not bring the claim within this time limit, the case will become time-barred (or statute-barred).
Examples of workplace accidents
Here are ten common types of workplace accidents:
1. Slips and trips – slippery floors from cleaning, spillages or wet weather can be hazardous.
2. Falls – workers may fall from ladders, stairwells, platforms or scaffolding.
3. Burns – these can include chemical burns in factories or labs, burns from overheated electrical equipment, or even from appliances or liquids in staff kitchens.
4. Back and neck strain – a job that involves heavy lifting can be a great risk for causing bad strains.
5. RSI – repetitive strain injury can be caused from incorrect keyboard use or any repetitive movement.
6. Cuts – a cut can occur in any working environment.
7. Hearing loss – this is especially a risk for those working in noisy factories or construction sites.
8. Crashes – workers using vehicles such as trucks, cars, bikes or even forklifts or cherry-pickers can be at risk of injury through crashes.
9. Trips – loose cables or flooring can cause people to trip and injure themselves.
10. Inhalation– workers exposed to chemicals or other fumes can inhale them and become ill as a result.