Accidents at work are unfortunately common, and they are not confined to what you may consider more dangerous working environments. Whether you work in an office, a restaurant, a factory or a building site, there is always the potential risk of an accident occurring, which could result in an injury.
If you find yourself in this situation, knowing what to do and what your employer’s responsibilities are can be confusing. In particular, when and how to report an accident at work.
In this guide, we will explore some of the main reasons why it is important to report accidents at work. We will also explain how to report a workplace accident if you suffer an injury at work.
Reporting Accidents at Work can Improve Workplace Safety
Reporting an accident, whether it be a serious one or a near miss, can be one of the best ways to ensure that the safety of your workplace is improved. In some cases, a hazard in the workplace will not be spotted through Risk Assessments and Health and Safety checks until it presents itself in the form of an accident or a near miss.
Employers with a good attitude to workplace safety will encourage their staff to raise concerns about accidents and hazards, even if they have not yet occurred, in order to prevent injuries. From your employer’s point of view, avoiding an accident altogether is much cheaper – both in time and money – than reacting to the losses and injuries that can be caused after an event.
Workplace Accident Statistics
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes yearly statistics to help businesses and employees understand why it is so important to report accidents at work to aid improvements in workplace safety. The most recent stats relating to workplace accidents in the UK in 2022 showed that:
- 123 workers died because of an accident in the workplace.
- 565,000 employees suffered injuries that weren’t fatal.
- The industry with the most reported accidents was the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry.
- Slips, trips and falls were the most common accidents that resulted in non-fatal injuries.
Reporting Accidents can be Less Costly for an Employer
The old adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’ is very appropriate when it comes to workplace safety. Most responsible business owners throughout the UK will recognise that preventing an accident will be far less expensive than addressing it once it’s happened.
The cost of responding to an accident is high on a number of levels:
- The business may have to pay for legal costs due to compensation claims made against them.
- Any compensation owed will have a financial impact on the business and will raise insurance premiums in the future.
- The cost of customer reaction can be limitless. If a business’ customers don’t trust them or judge them to have been irresponsible, the impact on orders and future business can be severe.
- Media coverage can cause irreparable reputational damage.
- The cost of fixing machinery, cleaning up the scene of an accident and replacing injured/lost workforce can financially ruin some businesses.
Because of this, sensible companies will encourage their team (and the public) to report accidents at work and will actively conduct risk assessments in the workplace regularly.
The employer should conduct risk assessments covering the working environment and specific tasks. The law requires businesses to provide a safe workplace for their staff, so companies have a legal duty to assess the potential risks in the workplace.
It would be impossible to assess and record all workplace risks. However, employers must demonstrate that they have considered all ‘reasonable’ risks and taken action to minimise the chances of a person being injured at work.
Reporting Accidents in the Workplace will Support Legal Cases
If an accident occurs in the workplace and a person is injured, it may lead to a personal injury claim being brought against the company. If this happens, it will be essential for both the business and the injured employee to provide thorough evidence to support their case.
Promptly reporting an accident at work can have a significant bearing on whether a claim can be made at all. In most cases, a person will have three years from the date of the accident or three years from the date that they can reasonably be expected to have known they were injured to initiate a claim. Either side, therefore, may draw on the reports of accidents in the workplace to prove the timeframe since the event occurred.
The information reported in the accident book can help build a picture of how the accident happened. As well as establishing what happened, it can also detail the injuries sustained, if any witnesses were present, and what action was taken.
Reporting Workplace Accidents Protects Employee Rights
If an employee suffers injuries from an accident in the workplace, they may be entitled to make a claim for compensation against their employer. As well as their legal and moral duty, an employer who reports accidents can help ensure that their employee’s rights are protected and helps to support their claim – which in turn could help with the employee’s recovery.
Is there a legal requirement to report accidents in the workplace?
As per the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment and to take all reasonably practical actions to ensure that employees and customers are safe.
RIDDOR is the legislation that UK employers are obliged to observe in order to remain legally compliant in Health and Safety practices. RIDDOR stands for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. It details which accidents at work must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and within what timeframes.
If a business employs ten or more members of staff, they have a legal duty to maintain an accident book, whereby all accidents are logged, and records are kept. The accident book can be very useful in providing details of an accident, highlighting if an employer should have previously taken steps to prevent an accident and who was at the scene when the accident occurred.
Employers are legally required to report certain accidents to the HSE through written notice within ten days. If an injury lasts more than seven days, then the report must be made within 15 days.
The types of workplace accidents that should be reported to HSE under RIDDOR include the following:
- An accident or injury that resulted in the death of a person
- A fractured bone, except for fractures to the toes, fingers or thumb.
- Loss of sight, both partially or full.
- Amputations to the arms, legs, feet, toes, fingers or hands.
- Certain industrial diseases, including dermatitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, vibration white finger and tendonitis.
- Serious burns in which 10% or more of the body is affected.
- Loss of consciousness caused by a head injury or asphyxiation.
- Crush injuries that result in damage to any internal organs.
In addition to the above reportable injuries, all accidents that result in an employee being off work for seven days or more due to their injuries must also be reported to HSE.
How does a business minimise the risk of workplace accidents?
There are several ways in which a business can prevent staff and customers from being injured or suffering losses due to workplace accidents – too many to cover in this article alone. However, as a brief summary, some of the main actions can include:
- Providing thorough training to employees on how to use machinery, lift heavy items and complete other work-related tasks.
- Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Responding to Risk Assessments that highlight shortfalls in equipment, practices or machinery.
- Prioritising people over profit (for example, choosing to temporarily shut down business activity in favour of repairing faulty equipment, rather than continuing to work knowing there’s an increased risk to safety).
- Continually and actively learning about best practices and implementing this within the business – sharing this information with all staff.
- Encouraging a workplace culture where safety is prioritised and thanking individuals for reporting concerns, rather than demonstrating that this is an unwanted nuisance.
How do I report an accident in the workplace?
In this article, we have hopefully demonstrated why it is important to report accidents at work – whether you suffered an injury yourself or just witnessed the event; however, it may not be clear how to make the report.
An employer committed to prioritising Health and Safety will ensure that the reporting process is shared with the workforce from induction and that the team is regularly reminded of best practices.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a workplace accident, or if you have witnessed an accident, you should follow the steps below:
- First, get medical support if needed. The priority is ensuring that medical attention is given to anybody injured in the accident. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure they have adequate First Aid kits and trained staff to address injuries in the workplace.
- Notify a manager or supervisor of the accident as soon as possible. They will be responsible for following the reporting process and initiating the investigation into the accident.
- Record all of the details about the accident. Make a thorough and accurate written record of the accident as soon as possible, while the information remains fresh in your memory. Include information about the date, time, location, other people involved and what happened after the accident.
- Complete an accident report through the company’s accident book (or whatever the employer uses as an equivalent). If you were the person who suffered an injury because of the accident, ask for a copy of the accident report for your own records – you may need this for any future compensation claim.
If you have suffered an accident in the workplace and sustained injuries or losses because of the incident, you may be entitled to make an accident at work compensation claim.
To find out whether you might be successful in a claim, contact our trained legal advisers by calling 0800 678 1410 or request a call back using our online claim form. If you are entitled to compensation, a specialist solicitor will support you throughout the claims process with a no win no fee service.