Employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees are safe at work. However, accidents do happen.
It is your responsibility to record accidents that lead to serious injuries. But, it's good practice to make a record of any incidents that happen in your workplace. Failure to report serious accidents can lead to claims being raised against you, with heavy fines to pay.
In this guide, we'll discuss when you need to report accidents, what details you must include, and what happens after an accident happens.
What is the law on employee accidents?
As an employer, you have a duty to protect your employees from safety issues whilst at work.
The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for enforcing workplace health & safety and protecting people injured due to work activity.
The rules on reporting workplace accidents are set out in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Reporting of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 370 of 2016).
What happens if you breach health and safety laws?
If an employee feels their health & safety or employment rights have been breached, they may raise a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
This could lead to you facing heavy fines to pay, as well as reputational damages for your company.
So, you need to understand what the process is for reporting workplace accidents.
What do employers need to report?
Employers need to report workplace accidents. Although it is not a legal requirement to report every single accident that happens, it's good practice to make a record of all incidents.
You must also report any dangerous occurrences that take place in your company.
What are dangerous occurrences?
Dangerous occurrences are events that can lead to workplace injuries and ill health, they are caused by a range of things.
Such as, but not limited to:
- Failure of equipment or machinery.
- An explosion or fire.
- The collapse of a building or scaffolding.
- An accident involving explosives.
- The escape of flammable substances.
As an employer, you need to understand when you need to report an accident at work.
When do you need to report a workplace accident?
Employees should report all accidents to their employer. And, it's good practice to record all of them.
This creates a physical record of the accident in case a complaint is made further down the line by the employee.
How long do you have to report an employee accident?
Injuries must be reported if the employee cannot carry out their normal work for three consecutive days (excluding the day of the accident). How long you have to report an accident at work is dependent on how serious it was.
- If the accident leads to an employee having to receive treatment at a hospital or medical facility: Within ten working days.
- If the accident proves fatal: Withing five working days.
- If the accident causes non-fatal injuries or a dangerous occurrence: ten days.
It's vital you record any accidents or injuries within the time frames, failure to do so could be a breach of legislation.
How to report an employee accident
You should record all details of an employee accident in an accident report book. This should be part of your health & safety management system.
An accident book is vital as it enables companies to meet their legal obligations under health & safety legislation.
What needs to be reported in a work accident book?
As an employer, you need to understand what to include in your work accident book. The accident details needs to include:
- Details of the injured person: name and contact information.
- The date and time of the accident.
- The location of the accident.
- The cause and nature of the injury.
- Details of any witnesses.
- If there is any CCTV footage of the accident.
You must ensure all details are kept private for all parties involved.
Who is responsible for reporting an accident?
Reporting of workplace accidents should be done by the responsible person as shown in your safety statement.
Typically, it's the same person who carries out your risk assessments. This person must have the correct training and qualifications.
Do you need to report workplace accidents to the Health and Safety Authority?
Under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2016, employers are legally required to report certain accidents to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Accidents that lead to serious injuries must be reported to the HSA. Fatal accidents must also be reported as soon as possible, the Garda must also be notified immediately.
Records of such accidents must be kept for ten years after the incident takes place.
What doesn't need to be reported to the HSA?
Not every form of workplace injury needs to be reported to the HSA. You don't need to report diseases, occupational illnesses, or any impairments of mental condition.
Failure to report the correct accidents can lead to legal action in the future. So, ensure you report what you're required to.
Can employees make personal injuries claim following a workplace accident?
Yes, employee’s may make a personal injury claim if the accident occurs due to the actions of the employer.
This is done via the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. If you reject their claim, the board may give the employee permission to raise a claim through the civil courts.
Can employees receive sick pay following an employee accident?
You must set out if there is a sick pay scheme within the employment contract. If there isn't a scheme in place, the employee can claim for injury benefit.
The Occupational Injuries Scheme is a group of benefits that can be received following an accident at work.
An employee may also receive illness benefits if they are unfit to work due to a workplace accident or injured whilst traveling to work.
From 1 January 2023, a Statutory Sick Pay scheme will come into effect. Under this scheme, employers will be obliged to pay employees 70% of their normal daily wage (subject to a cap of €110 per day) during medically certified absences. (Three days sick leave in 2023 rising to ten days by 2026
Can you dismiss an employee whilst they're on long-term sick leave?
No, most of the time you can’t dismiss an employee whilst they're on long-term sick leave. By doing so, an employee can raise a claim of unfair dismissal.
However if you have followed a fair and reasonable medical capability process, it may be possible to dismiss employees on long-term sick leave.
If found guilty, you could be forced to pay heavy fines, as well as reputational damages.
Get expert advice on employee accidents from Peninsula
Employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees are safe from injury whilst they're at work. However, accidents do happen from time to time.
It is your responsibility to record the accidents that lead to serious injuries. But, it's good practice to make a record of all accidents that happen. Failure to report serious accidents can lead to claims being raised against you, with heavy fines to pay.