Reporting accidents at work swiftly and in accordance with the correct procedures is crucial in order to help food-to-go businesses manage legal as well as reputational risks. Philip Youdan, partner at Cripps Pemberton Greenish, looks at the rules…
Under health and safety legislation food businesses are responsible for the safety of their employees. This risk is addressed by employers in many ways, most importantly by undertaking and implementing recommendations arising from risk assessments and providing training. However, accidents do happen. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, within the food industry the meat processing sector has had the highest ratio of injuries. However, accidents are reported across all food sectors, from diary and cheese-making through to brewing.
Given that accidents are inevitable, it is important to understand your reporting obligations as and when these occur. The regulatory requirements for the reporting of accidents is provided for within the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). RIDDOR creates a legal obligation on employers, or in certain circumstances others who control or manage premises, to report to the relevant enforcing authority and keep records of:
- Work-related deaths
- Work-related accidents that cause certain serious injuries
- Diagnosed cases of certain industrial diseases
- Certain dangerous occurrences
The most common reason for needing to make a report is where there has been a workplace injury. According to HSE data, such injuries commonly arise from manual handing, slips and trips, falls from height and being hit by objects or machinery. These types of injury can occur in most types of business.
The criteria for whether an injury must be reported is either that:
- It is an injury of a specified type; for example, a fracture (other than to fingers, thumbs or toes), an amputation, permanent loss/reduction of sight, serious burns and unconsciousness
- The injury results in an employee or self-employed person being away from work, or unable to perform their normal duties, for more than seven consecutive days
In respect of diseases and dangerous occurrences, details of these can be obtained from the HSE. There are 27 categories of dangerous occurrences, and understanding those likely to be relevant to your business is key to risk management.
Work-related accidents involving members of the public must also be reported if a person is injured and taken from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment to that injury. When a report must be made, this can be done online at www.hse.gov.uk/riddor, or by telephone for certain injuries.
While it is not a regulatory requirement, in addition to notifying the HSE, when there has been an accident you should notify your insurer. Failure to do so may affect cover. You should also keep a clear record of events and actions taken, to help defend any claim for compensation by the injured party and prevent or reduce fines or other action by the HSE.