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Health and Safety management tips to help in the event of a workplace accident

The Forum's adviser on health and safety issues, Martin Mulholland, gives his advice on what employers should do in the event of a workplace accident. 
Despite a good deal of publicity from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 there is still some confusion among employers regarding their duties and what to do when it comes to reporting accidents. The revised Regulations are now in place so here is some advice on what you now have to in the unfortunate event of a workplace accident.

Minor accident

An accident is an event that results in injury or ill-health.

All accidents (requiring First-Aid treatment) need to be entered into the Accident Book (Form BI 510) – this is readily available from HSE Books and online retailers. At some point in the future you may need to rely on these details in order to enable you to undertaken an investigation or process a claim.

Over-three day incapacitation
 
If an accident results in an absence lasting for over three (3) consecutive days then you must ensure that it is recorded and also undertake a suitable investigation to determine the root causes so as to learn lessons to prevent recurrence. Analysis of your accidents can help to reduce incidence rates, increase safety performance and reduce costs.

Reportable accidents

"Specified Injuries" need to be reported. These can include a fracture, amputation, permanent loss of sight or reduction of sight, crush injuries to the head or torso, serious burns. A full list is available in the Regulations (available from HSE Website: www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm).

Where this occurs, in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, you must ensure that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is notified without delay by the quickest practicable means (e.g. using the online Forms on the HSE Website). This reporting must be undertaken within fifteen (15) days.

Over-seven day incapacitation
 
An accident resulting in an absence lasting for over seven (7) consecutive days are also reportable. Again reporting must be undertaken within fifteen (15) days.

Investigations

Whilst not a strict legal duty the requirement to investigating accidents and reported cases of occupational ill health helps to address breaches in health and safety legal compliance and hence becomes an "implied" duty.

It is also good practice and allows you to demonstrate that you identified the causes and and took remedial action to prevent further occurrences. In turn this will help in a case of legal defence (e.g. court case or negligence claim) and can help you negotiate with your insurers.

Martin Mulholland is a consulting Partner at MD Safety Management (www.mdsm.org.uk) who prepare the FPB Health and Safety Guide and also provide Health and Safety services to small to medium-sized businesses across a wide range of industry sectors.

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