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Date of Issue: Tuesday, 18 September, 2012
This week our guest blogger is IIRSM Fellow Rob Tuttey.
Proposed changes to RIDDOR and reporting of non-employee injuries
A flurry of HSE activity has taken place since the release of Prof Löfstedt review and number of open consultations are taking place to remove, reduce or simply leave alone approved codes of practice and legal series documents, one of which under consultation is RIDDOR. It was only in April that the over 3-day reporting period was extended to over 7-days and the period to report extended to 15 days from 10, but this proposal goes much deeper. This is about the focus of HSE and how the inspectors respond to intelligence gathered on incidents. It is about cleaning up the statistics so high risk / serious consequence events are investigated by the HSE and time normally spent following up minor incidents and administration costs are reduced. Nowhere else is this more apparent than when a non employee, such as a customer in a store who grazes a knee, ends up going to hospital and then the employer has to report it under RIDDOR the same as a Major Injury.
Whilst any injury can be seen as unacceptable, the cost of administering these types of reports and time spent responding to and liaising with inspectors (mainly Environmental Health Officers) can be significant given the sheer quantity of footfall each day that pass through these types of premise. Visits rarely remain focussed on just the event reported and can be influenced by many other factors. I remember one claims manager at large retailer quoting me “ 1 in 2 customer RIDDORs result in a claim”. How many claims letters arrive asking for sight of the F2508 fuelling the perception that if it was a RIDDOR, then there must be fault and we must settle the claim quickly to contain costs. At a forum of H&S professionals, I recall example after examples of disproportionate intervention by the enforcing authority over minor injuries involving the public following submission of an F2508 where as some more serious employee major injuries had gone un-inspected and not investigated.
This current consultation covers many changes and I support the move to simplify this sometimes complex piece of regulation. However the bit I am really interested in, is this proposal to remove the requirement to report non-fatal accidents to people not at work. This covers for example, member of the public, customers in retail premises, users of leisure facilities, residential and nursing home service users, students and school children and volunteers working for charities. Nearly all of these are covered by Local Authority rather than the HSE and how will they gather their intelligence if not by the F2508? For some sectors like residential and nursing care homes, this will be picked up by other agencies such as the CQC and Safe Guarding teams, recent memoranda of understanding have been established to ensure this happens, but what about the rest? The consultation states figures from the Local Authorities are not available.
I’m sure many H&S Practitioners and employers up and down the country will welcome this proposal and see the benefits of removing such a reporting burden, and hopefully address the issue of disproportionate enforcement and intervention following a report. For organisations with established and dedicated safety resources, I’m less concerned – however for those without access to, or choose not to play by the rules and appoint competent safety advice, are we talking about self regulation here? How will this type of organisation e.g. a smaller retailer respond to customer injuries that aren’t fatal given the reduction in planned inspections of low risk premises? Even a minor injury might be masking serious H&S failures and non-compliances which could of been picked up via an inspection – if the F2508 invite never gets sent, will they investigate? how will the inspector find out about those accidents that aren’t serious enough to be reported by the emergency services? and could a minor non-compliance be masking or lead to bigger things? Could it be that whilst the desire is to tighten up the procedures for making personal injury claims, claimant’s solicitors will fill the gap of gathering that evidence instead, and informing the HSE and local authority of their concerns?
The full consultation can be accessed on the HSE website here and you have until 28th October to respond.
Rob Tuttey FIIRSM, Head of Health & Safety at Bupa Care Services UK