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The Reporting of Work-Related Incidents


Any accident in the workplace is likely to be a distressing event for all concerned. As well as ensuring the immediate welfare of those involved and quickly establishing what happened, many employers, and other responsible people, also have a legal duty to report the facts of the incident to the relevant enforcement authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority.

The duty to report work-related incidents ensures the relevant enforcement authority has the information it needs to commence investigations into the circumstances of the incident and establish what, if any, enforcement action is needed. Enforcement authorities also rely on the correct reporting of incidents to monitor incident rates and gather analytical data on the causes and outcomes of accidents in the workplace and what can be done to effectively reduce recurrence.

The reporting of workplace incidents is governed by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). Failure to comply with RIDDOR is a criminal offence.

It is important that every business, no matter its size, has a clear understanding of its reporting obligations and has in place a clear strategy for incident investigation.

The HSE has issued updated guidance on its website on what constitutes a reportable incident as well as guidance on who is required to submit a RIDDOR report and how and when such a report should be submitted.


1.     Types of Reportable Incidents

It is important to note that not every incident needs to be reported.

A RIDDOR report is only required when:

  •  the accident is work related, and
  • it results in a reportable injury

The following types of injury MUST be reported under RIDDOR

The death of any person 

With the exception of suicides, the death of any person must be reported under RIDDOR if it resulted from a work-related accident.

Specified Reportable Injuries

Regulation 4 of RIDDOR provides a list of ‘specified injuries’ that must also be reported:

  • fractures (other than to fingers, thumbs or toes) 
  • amputations of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe 
  • any injury likely to cause permanent blinding or reduction in sight in one or both eyes 
  • any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs
  • a serious burn (including scalding): 

       o   covering more than 10% of the body; or

       o   causing significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs 

  • any scalping requiring hospital treatment
  • any loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia
  • any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which: 

     o   leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness; or

     o   requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours 


Over-seven-day incapacitation of a worker

Work-related accidents must be reported where they result in an employee (or self-employed person) being away from work, or unable to do their normal work duties, for more than seven consecutive days as the result of their injury.

Where the worker’s injury or condition does not become apparent until some time after the accident, it must be reported as soon as it has prevented them from doing their normal work duties for more than seven consecutive days.

This seven-day period does not include the day of the accident but does include weekends and rest days. The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.

Note that accidents must be recorded where they result in a worker being away from work, or unable to do their normal work duties, for more than three consecutive days; however, employers are not required to report such incidents.

Non-fatal accidents to non-workers

Accidents to members of the public or others who are not at work (such as customers or volunteers) must be reported if (1) they involve a work activity, (2) they result in an injury, and (3) the person is taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment.

Examinations and diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, do not count as ‘treatment’. However, you must report treatment that involves the person having a dressing applied, stitches, a plaster cast or surgery.

There is no need to report incidents where people are taken to hospital purely as a precaution when no injury is apparent.

Occupational disease

Certain occupational diseases, where these are likely to have been caused or made worse by their work, must be reported.

Regulations 8 and 9 of RIDDOR list these diseases, which include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • cramp of the hand or forearm 
  • occupational dermatitis 
  • hand-arm vibration syndrome
  • occupational asthma 
  • tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm
  • occupational cancer – there must be a causal link between the type of cancer diagnosed and the hazards to which the person has been exposed through work. Reports are only required when the person’s work significantly increases the risk of developing the cancer. For example, the following diagnosed occupational cancers must be reported:

     o   mesothelioma or lung cancer in a person who is occupationally exposed to asbestos fibres

     o   cancer of the nasal cavity or sinuses in a person who is occupationally exposed to wood dust

  • All diseases must be reported when there is a causal link between an occupational exposure and a biological agent

Dangerous occurrences

There are certain circumstances in which an incident that does not result in injury must be reported under RIDDOR. 

Dangerous occurrences are certain specified near-miss events that arise out of or in connection with work. The HSE has detailed guidance on dangerous occurrences that must be reported under Schedule 2 of RIDDOR. Examples of dangerous occurrences are: 

  • the collapse, overturning or failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment 
  • plant or equipment coming into contact with overhead power lines 
  • the accidental release of any substance which could cause injury to any person 

Gas incidents

Distributors, fillers, importers and suppliers of flammable gas must report incidents in connection with that gas, where someone has:

  • died
  • lost consciousness, or
  • been taken to hospital for treatment

There is a specific online form (titled ‘Report of a Flammable Gas Incident’) available on the HSE website to report such incidents.


2.     Who should report?

Only ‘responsible persons’ should submit reports under RIDDOR. Responsible persons are identified as:

  • employers – you must report any work-related deaths, and certain work-related injuries, cases of disease, and near misses involving your employees wherever they are working. 
  • self-employed – in some specific circumstances
  • those in control of work premises – you must report any work-related deaths, certain injuries to members of the public and self-employed persons and dangerous occurrences on your premises. 


3.     Submitting a RIDDOR report

For most types of incident, including:

  • accidents resulting in the death of any person
  • accidents resulting in specified injuries to workers
  • non-fatal accidents requiring hospital treatment to non-workers
  • dangerous occurrences

The responsible person must notify the enforcing authority without delay (and within ten days of the incident). This is most easily done by reporting online.

For accidents resulting in the over-seven-day incapacitation of a worker, a RIDDOR report must be submitted within fifteen days of the incident.

Cases of occupational disease, including those associated with exposure to carcinogens, mutagens or biological agents, must be reported as soon as the responsible person becomes aware of the diagnosis.

The responsible person needs to submit a report by completing the relevant form online on the HSE website. The form will be submitted to the RIDDOR database. The responsible person will then have the option to download a copy for their records.


4.     Practical Advice

It is important that you read the relevant guidance and obtain legal advice before completing the form.

The submission of a RIDDOR often instigates an investigation by the HSE or other relevant enforcement authority. It is, therefore, important you first establish whether the incident is reportable and whether you are the ‘responsible person’ or if the RIDDOR report should be submitted by others.

The time frames for reporting are tight and it is important the information on the form is accurate and that the wording is appropriate. Those completing the form should avoid opinion or speculation.

Keoghs has a leading national team of specialist regulatory lawyers on hand to offer advice 24/7 on all issues flowing from a work-related incident, including RIDDOR, privilege, incident response, representation at PACE interviews under caution all the way through to court proceedings.


David Rainey

David Rainey
Partner - Manchester
Health & Safety


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