Accidents at work

04 November 2020

Health & safety is vital for all businesses. Employers all have a duty of care to their employees. And failing to keep proactive in this, can be the difference between life and death.

The workplace can present a range of hazards and risks. And despite new tech keeping people safe, accidents still occur.

It’s your responsibility to prevent accidents at work. Claims could be raised by injured parties, and that could mean facing costly tribunal hearings.

Learn how to protect your staff from workplace accidents, how to report accidents, and what your duties are after an incident occurs.

What is an accident at work?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a workplace accident as, “an event that results in injury or ill health.”

This covers a wide range of situations. The most common causes of accidents in the workplace include:

  • Fall from height.
  • Slips, trips, and falls.
  • Incorrect manual handling.
  • Stress-related illnesses.
  • Road traffic accidents.

Who is responsible for accidents at work?

Employers must protect employees and ensure a safe working environment. So, you ultimately have responsibility for any accidents that occur.

You have a legal duty of care for anyone on your business premises, like clients or customers. And anyone in close contact to work activities, like contractors or members of the public.

There are many things you can do to ensure a safe work environment. Such as providing:

Many of these activities are required , and can significantly minimise chances of serious injury.

Accident at work law

Legislation that protect your employees’ welfare includes:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • The Health and Safety at Work Order 1978.
  • Equality Act 2010.
  • Employment Rights Act 1996.
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

Whether you have part-time or full-time staff, you must protect them from harm in the workplace. The laws outline safety measurements you need to comply with to fulfil your legal duty to keep staff safe.

If someone suffers an injury at work and can prove negligence, you might have to pay compensation. You could also receive additional penalties from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Reporting accidents and incidents at work

Following an accident at work, UK employers have a responsibility, to report injuries to the HSE. You must report:

  • Fatal and non-fatal injuries.
  • Occupational diseases.
  • Dangerous occurrences (or ‘near misses’).
  • Accidents that lead to more than seven days’ absence.
  • Incidents involving gases.

How do you report an accident at work?

Businesses with over 10 employees are legally required to keep an accident book at work. It helps maintain accurate records; and is used for recording both major and minor incidents at work.

For less serious incidents, you should create an accident at work form and retain a written record. Serious accidents must be reported to the HSE.

You must ensure all staff know your health & safety procedures, and the process of reporting accidents and incidents at work. This allows your team to safeguard each other and prevent repeat incidents.

How to write an accident report at work

Reporting accidents at work is a legal obligation for employers. When writing the report, follow this accident at work procedure:

1. Prepare the accident report

Once the victims of the accident have been tended to, you should report the accident.

If the accident is considered minor under RIDDOR, log the report in your accident book.

If it’s a major accident, you must prepare a report of the accident to send to HSE.

2. Log the details

You should log the details for the report and include:

  • Date, time, and location.
  • Details of the victim/s.
  • Names of witnesses and their account of the events.
  • Environmental conditions, like workplace floors, lights or noises.
  • Specific injuries and medical treatment if applicable.
  • Damage to business property, like location, equipment, stock.

You should include whether the victim is considered vulnerable. Like if they’re a minor, pregnant, or have serious health issues to consider.

3. Investigate the accident

Hold a formal investigation for the accident. The main objective is to gather information and data.

Interview people who were involved, collect evidence, and write a report for what happened.

You need to consider primary causes, like wet floors, or a loose cable. Then think about secondary causes, like whether employees were wearing the correct PPE or were conducting the correct manual handling.

After these two levels, you should consider any other contributing factors that lead to the accident.

4. Submit major accidents to authorities

Establish whether the accident report needs to be submitted to the HSE, under RIDDOR. It’s important to check this as you don’t want to put your business under investigation unnecessarily.

If the accident is reportable, fill in the HSE’s online RIDDOR form. Submissions should only be done by a ‘responsible person’, this means they need to have sufficient training and experience in health & safety.

There are seven reports you can use depending on the accident:

  • Report of an injury.
  • Report of a dangerous occurrence.
  • Report of a case of disease.
  • Report of flammable gas incident.
  • Report of a dangerous gas fitting.
  • Report of an injury offshore.
  • Report of a dangerous occurrence offshore.

5. Review your risk assessments

You should review risk assessments after an accident or near accident, according to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).

You should regularly review your risk assessments even if there hasn’t been an incident.

Can an employee be dismissed after an accident at work?

Legally, you cannot dismiss someone because of an accident in the workplace. If you let them go this way, you’d likely face a claim for unfair dismissal.

You should deal with the accident first, making sure you put in measures to minimise it happening again. Then, if you need to discuss the incident with the employee, do it through proper meetings and conversations.

Keeping good employee relations is vital for business success; if they feel guilty for causing an accident, chances are they won’t perform at their best.

And if they quit because they feel you are treating them unfairly, they could raise a claim for constructive dismissal.

Get expert advice on managing accidents in the workplace

It’s crucial for all employers to implement health & safety procedures and training to control the numbers for accidents and injuries.

If you don’t, employees will feel unsafe and could report you for unsafe working conditions, or seek alternative employment.

Peninsula offers expert employment health & safety advice regarding accidents at work. We can create detailed policies, risk assessments, and procedures to help you keep your staff safe.

Not yet a client, you can still benefit from free advice offered by one of our business specialists. Simply call us on 0800 029 4391.

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