Is an accident book a legal requirement? What is it in the first place, and what does the book contain?
An accident book provides confirmation of details related to all accidents that happen on employers’ premises. The details include exact time when an accident occurred, date, what caused it, people who got injured (if any) as well as nature and extent of the injuries. All information contained in the book must remain confidential. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why most of the accident books comprise of pages that can be pulled out.
What are the benefits of keeping the book?
Why should employers and employees care about the book, and what benefits does it offer in case an accident occurs at work?
There are two main reasons why you should keep an accident book at the workplace:
1. To accurately record all details related to an accident, support claims for recompense/ compensation and explain why you took time off from work.
2. Record all types of accidents that happen to help your employer effect changes on workplace processes and systems (where necessary), so as to minimize or prevent occurrence of similar incidents in future.
An accident book can be an important source of evidence, and the proof can be used when making legal claims to verify your entitlement to compensation. Is an accident book a legal requirement? Yes, it is. There is no doubt about that. It can play an important role in enabling employers prevent the occurrence of more accidents.
Who must keep the important book?
Many employers in the United Kingdom keep an accident book, but there are certain questions that most employers seek answers to:
a) What are the specific requirements for keeping the book? Is an accident book a legal requirement?
b) Are there organizations that are exempted from the requirement?
Any company that has employed at least ten people has the legal obligation to keep an accident book at all times on its premises to enable recording of accidents (when they occur). Additionally, information contained in the work book must be stored in a safe place for a period of three years, and the information must not be revealed to any unauthorized parties.
Must I report all types of accidents?
Which accident types does the law require employers to report? Are there accidents that don’t necessarily have to be documented within the book?
The RIDDOR (Reporting-of-Injuries-Diseases & Dangerous-Occurrences Regulations), enacted in 1995, stipulate the specific accident types that must be reported. They include:
i) Any injury that prevents an employee from performing their normal duty for at least three days.
ii) Breakdown of machinery, damage cause by machine defects, collapse of scaffolding and other dangerous incidents that happen at work.
iii) Broken arms, legs, broken ribs and other major body injuries.
iv) Outbreak of diseases.
Nevertheless, it is important to report all accident types, even if they don’t appear in the list above. The unexpected occurrences include: slips, minor injuries occasioned by defective office equipment, trips and decapitated fingers, among other incidences.
Reporting minor incidences can help reveal imminent larger risks.
RIDDOR- what is it?
This is the regulation that requires people who control work premises (e.g. employers) to keep accurate records of and also report the following:
1. Accidents related to work that cause death.
2. Certain dangerous occurrences.
3. Accidents related to work that cause reportable injuries.
4. Diagnosed cases of specific industrial diseases.
Additionally, there are particular gas-related incidences that must also be reported.
Amendments were later made to the original RIDDOR that introduced substantial changes to the previously existing requirements. The new laws (RIDDOR 2013) became effective on 1st October 2013. The major changes were to make reporting requirements in certain areas simpler. They include:
i) Classification of serious injuries was replaced with a brief list of particular injuries.
ii) Fewer types of hazardous occurrences require reporting.
iii) Previous list of forty-seven industrial disease types replaced with less than ten categories of work related illnesses that can be reported.
Why should employees report injuries to authorities?
Employees are legally obligated to report certain incidences. The formal report informs HSE, the Office-for-Rail Regulation, local authorities and other enforcing authorities about work related deaths, dangerous occurrences, injuries as well as diseases.
Reports enable authorities to find out where risks abound, how they come about and if there is need to carry out investigations. As a result, they are better placed to offer valuable advice on how to avoid deaths, unanticipated losses, injuries and unexpected illnesses while at work.
What incidents must be reported?
With regard to RIDDOR, an accident is defined as a separate, unintended and particular occurrence that leads to physical injury. It specifically includes non-consensual violence and other similar acts to employees while at work.
However, some accidents can remain unreported. According to RIDDOR, an accident must only be reported if it meets the following minimum conditions:
A. The unexpected occurrence is related to work.
B. The accident leads to a reportable injury.
When making the decision concerning whether an accident that caused death, unexpected loss or injury is related to work, the following important factors must be taken into consideration:
a) How the work was planned, supervised or performed.
b) Condition of the premises where the misfortune happened.
c) Machinery, equipment, plant or other objects used for work.
Who must fill the accident book?
To whom does the law give responsibility to fill the important work book?
Details of unexpected occurrences at the workplace can be documented in the accident book by the person who has gotten injured or by colleagues. Details of the exact time, date, resultant injuries, name of the person who has sustained injuries, full circumstances and people who witnessed the occurrence (if any) must be documented in the book as well.
It is a legal requirement for employees to let their employers know about accidents that have happened at the place of work within the shortest possible time.
In the unfortunate event that an employee gets incapacitated by an unexpected occurrence and is consequently unable to perform normal duties for more than a week, the employer has a legal obligation to report details concerning the accident as documented in the accident book.
Providing accident reports to the HSE
When are employers required to present accident reports to the Health-and-Safety Executive?
If death or a serious accident happens at the workplace, the Health-and-Safety Executive, in accordance with the RIDDOR regulations, requires employers to provide it with accurate reports. However, HSE does not expect employers to provide it with information about all accident types. As listed above, the law requires employers to report specific accident types only.
Generally, accident reports must be provided by employers. In case an employer fails to do that, an affected employee has the liberty of reporting the occurrence on their behalf. Your employer may have legitimate reasons for not reporting an incident to the authorities. For instance, the employer may have been absent during the incident. The employer may also fail to disclose certain information because they don’t wish it to appear on their records given that HSE are always eager to launch investigations.
Should I report accidents to the Health-and-Safety Executive or simply record in the accident book?
In the event that an injury is classified as serious as prescribed by RIDDOR, then the occurrence must be documented in the accident book and reported to the Health-and-Safety Executive as well.
Making claims for compensation without filling in the accident book
Does the law allow employees to claim recompense if there are no records in the important book?
In case you got injured due to an unforeseen event that occurred at the workplace, but have reason to believe that nobody completed the important book as required by law, don’t worry. Your employer or colleagues may have forgotten to document details in the book because they were more concerned about administering first aid or rushing you to hospital.
Even though this is a pertinent issue that may be raised by the employer’s insurer (from whom you seek compensation), the challenge is undoubtedly surmountable. Get in touch with your employer within the shortest possible time and request for documentation of the incident. Additionally, it is imperative to consult a reputable solicitor with skills and experience in workplace compensation. The solicitor can provide valuable insight and guidance throughout the process.
With the solicitor’s help, you will have ability to invite people who witnessed the accident to give evidence, find out if other similar accidents occurred in the past, obtain a report from the HSE, obtain ambulance records and get hospital records as well. These documents can play a pivotal role in supporting your claims.
In summary, you can get compensated for an injury suffered while at work even if no information was documented in the accident book.
Making a claim
In the unfortunate event that you sustain injuries due to an accident that occurs at the workplace, it is important to claim recompense through a reputable solicitor within the shortest time possible. Even though there is a three year period during which you can file a claim for compensation, the chances of successfully getting recompense reduces at time goes by.
Remember that vital documents may be displaced or get lost. Memories of people who witnessed the accident may also fade or completely disappear. The company may even wind up. Witnesses may relocate to other continents, and may therefore be unavailable when called upon to testify. To successfully get recompensed, the general rule of thumb is to go to court and file a compensation claim as soon as you can.
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