Whilst running a business, accidents in the workplace are unfortunately inevitable.
Accident reporting is integral for monitoring health and safety policies within a business. The process allows employers to identify serious workplace risks and hazards. It also helps a business ensure its safety measures are suitable and improve any faults that could affect their workforce, or the public.
Where accidents occur, employers need to follow through with the correct reporting procedures - from the time of an accident, and afterwards.
This guide outlines the importance of reporting accidents and dangerous occurrences in the workplace. We’ll take a look at the fundamentals of HSA accident reporting within Irish businesses. And how you can support injured employees affected by work-related accidents.
Accident reporting in the workplace
Employers are legally obligated to report any injuries caused by an accident whilst working. Under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2016, accidents must be reported to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
The HSA workplace inspection regime audits businesses for compliance with health and safety standards. Further investigation may follow for any organisations that fail to maintain the appropriate standards. Through their reports, employers can establish high-risk areas in the workplace and implement appropriate actions.
Why is accident reporting required?
Employers need to have strong health and safety policies embedded in the workplace - for the protection of employees, visitors, and customers.
Both employer and employees’ safety rights are set out under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The act includes penalties for any establishment found to be in breach of health and safety legislation.
Depending on the seriousness of the breach or outcome of the accident, employers could face criminal prosecution; like fines, business closure, or even imprisonment.
Failure to report an accident to the appropriate authorities can lead to serious consequences both for a business and its management. So, it’s important to report any relevant incidents and familiarise yourself with any updates to health and safety legislation affecting your industry.
What accidents are considered reportable?
An accident is defined as an unexpected incident that results in death, or consequential injuries. Injuries can range from strained muscles and broken bones, to concussion and unconsciousness.
Establishing whether an accident or dangerous occurrence is reportable is crucial. Reportable incidents fall under 3 situations:
- When an employee is injured whilst carrying out their work.
- When an employee isn't working but is injured because of a workplace accident.
- When a non-employee (contractors, visitors, members of the public) is injured because of work activity.
Based on the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, only non-fatal and fatal injuries are reportable. Medical illness likes viruses, diseases, occupational illnesses, or any medical impairments are considered not reportable.
Non-fatal accidents - accidents where employees are unable to carry on working should be reported to HSA. The report must be submitted within 10 working days of the accident.
They should also state if an employee cannot work for three consecutive days, excluding the day of the accident.
Fatal accidents - these accidents must be reported straight away. The employee accident report should be submitted to HSA within five working days after the death. Also, it is important to notify the Gardaí and communicate the situation across.
Employers are also required to notify HSA if an injured person dies within a year of an accident at work. It is irrelevant if a report was not established at the time of the accident. You are still required to notify the authorities as soon as you are made aware of the death.
Requirements for reporting accidents in the workplace
All accidents, near-miss incidents, and dangerous occurrences in the workplace should be immediately reported to the employer (or appointed management).
Employers hold a responsibility to submit to HSA all reportable accidents and follow through with an accident risk assessment.
Here is a basic structure to consider when reporting an accident:
- Employers must submit an HSA accident report form, found on the HSA Publication Section (or post an IR1 printed version).
- You should document the accident in detail - recollect the whole incident and any health and safety breaches.
- Ensure the scene of the accident remains undisturbed (unless there are still possible threats of danger).
- Wait for an HSA inspector (and possibly Gardaí) to investigate the accident and establish the circumstances for the incident.
It’s important to preserve all evidence and documentation. Online reports allow employers to report incidents aptly and access reports documented from previous years.
Employers are required to store accident reports for 10 years from the date of the incident.
Supporting the injured employee
Whilst processing accident reports, employers should ensure that the injured employee has sought medical help (from medical services, GPs, hospitals, etc).
It’s important to discuss the employee’s working situation with them. Consider their general health, wellbeing, and the likelihood of returning to work.
Employers should also consider whether the injured employee is entitled to employment benefits after a work-related accident.
- Sick leave
- Social Welfare Payments
- Occupational Injuries Scheme
- Injury Benefit
- Disability Benefit
- Illness Benefit
It’s important to care for the welfare of your employees, by following the correct procedure for reporting accidents in the workplace.
Having an efficient reporting procedure (and follow-up method) will minimise effects on business productivity and concentrate on workforce wellbeing.
Get expert support on reporting accidents with Peninsula Ireland
Our team can help you draft an HSA accident report form template that works for your business. Peninsula Ireland clients get access to 24/7 health & safety consultations along with access to our health & safety document specialists.
And if you’re not yet a client, you can still enjoy free advice from one of our business experts. Simply call us on 0808 109 1974.