All workplaces in England and Wales with 10 or more employees are legally required to have an accident book. If you are working in a new location for the first time it’s a good idea to find out where this is kept.
If you have an accident at work, even if it’s minor, make sure that the incident is recorded in the accident book. You can either fill this in yourself or ask a colleague or manager to compete it on your behalf.
Why Report Accidents at Work?
It’s important to keep a record of accidents that have occurred in the workplace for a number of reasons.
Firstly, employers are responsible for providing a safe working environment for their employees. Employers can review accident records to identify any trends and assess whether working practices need to be adapted or measures need to be taken to make the work environment safer. Looking at trends of minor accidents could expose more serious risks, meaning measures can be taken to address them before a serious accident occurs.
In order to make a work accident claim you will need to prove that you were injured as a direct result of either your employers’ actions or their failure to act. Your employer may, for example, have been made aware of some dangerous equipment in the workplace but failed to repair or remove it, expected employees to carry heavy items of equipment without providing appropriate lifting aids or training, failed to repair passageways and other areas of the workplace or failed to adequately train their employees on how to carry out their work. The information that has been recorded in the accident book can provide valuable evidence to support your injury claim. It’s a good idea to request a copy of the accident book contents as soon as you decide to make a claim so that your Solicitor can review this.
It could be that you have been involved in a work accident that was just one in a string of more minor incidents, which should have been picked up and addressed by your employer. If this is the case then it would be hugely beneficial to have records of all previous accidents to support your claim. This is another reason why it’s very important for you and your colleagues to keep a record of any accidents you witness or are involved in, no matter how insignificant they may seem in isolation.
Reporting Accidents to HSE
In addition to recording workplace accidents in the accident book, employers in England and Wales are required by law to report more serious accidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This is required under what’s known as “RIDDOR” which stands for Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
The following incidents need to be reported under RIDDOR:
- The death of a person if this was caused by a work-related accident.
- Work-related accidents which cause the following reportable injuries:
- a fracture (other than to fingers, thumbs or toes)
- amputation of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe
- permanent loss of sight or reduction of sight
- crush injuries resulting in internal organ damage
- serious burns which cover more than 10% of the body or damage the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs
- head scalpings which require hospital treatment
- unconsciousness caused by a head injury or asphyxia
- any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space, which leads to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.
- Diagnosed cases of certain industrial diseases, including (but not limited to) occupational cancers, carpal tunnel syndrome or occupational asthma.
- Certain “dangerous occurrences” or near misses, which might have had the potential to cause harm.
Can Anyone Read the Accident Book?
The accident book can be accessed and filled in by anyone in the workplace. However, it must also comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act, so completed records need to be removed and stored confidentially by the employer. Accident books have removable pages for this purpose. This means that any information recorded in the accident book remains completely confidential.