Serious workplace accidents - what employers need to know about RIDDOR
Workplace accidents can occur in any job, and as such, it is important to have robust health and safety procedures in place to minimise risk as much as possible.
One way to achieve this is through following the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) set out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
These are a legal requirement, and by keeping a log of the accidents that occur within a company, it becomes easier to identify areas of concern that can be improved upon in future.
The most serious work-related injuries
RIDDOR contains a collection of workplace injuries it deems to be particularly serious, and these must all be reported on if they occur.
Any death that occurs in a workplace, be it a member of staff or otherwise, must be reported. The only exception to this is suicides, which do not fall under the HSE’s guidelines.
There are then eight categories of what RIDDOR calls ‘specific injuries’. These are all very serious and likely to result in a prolonged absence from work. An employee may also wish to take legal action if it is found that their work environment was in some way unsafe, and that this directly contributed to their accident.
These injuries include fractures (other than fingers, thumbs and toes), amputations, accidents causing permanent or temporary damage to sight, crushes to the head or torso that damage internal organs, serious burns, scalping, loss of consciousness caused by head injuries or suffocation and any condition caused by working in an enclosed space, particularly if this requires resuscitation or a hospital visit of more than 24 hours.
What happens if an injured employee takes legal action?
If an employee feels compelled to seek compensation for their injury, the health and safety procedures of the business will doubtless come under scrutiny.
Proper adherence to RIDDOR will provide an accurate portrayal of what exactly happened during the incident in question. There will also be a focus on whether staff were given the correct health and safety training, particularly if machinery or hazardous chemicals were involved.
Depending on where the fault lies, it may be that both parties have to reach a settlement agreement or put their case forward in Court.
The benefits of proper health and safety procedures are clear. Keeping your staff safe is obviously a priority, while you can also identify ways to improve and avoid reoccurrences of the same situation.
Sheldon Davidson Solicitors are a Manchester-based law firm who specialise in helping victims of industrial injuries and diseases.