Thursday 18 August 2011

RIDDOR reporting period to be changed to 7 days

The reporting period for injuries sustained at work is to be extended from three to seven days, following analysis of responses to the consultation on RIDDOR carried out earlier this year.

At a meeting of the HSE Board today (17 August), it was decided to recommend to the Work and Pensions Secretary that the proposed change to reg.3(2) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 be carried into effect. The decision was based on 776 finalised responses to the consultation – held between February and May this year – among which there was a two-to-one majority in favour of the change.

According to the HSE, a majority of respondents felt the change would not have an adverse consequence on national statistics. Other positive key themes identified from the consultation were that admin burdens will be reduced; aligning the reporting period with that required under the new fit-note system will make sickness absence easier to manage; and the extended period will allow more time for employers to investigate the incident internally.

Concerns highlighted by those against the change included the likelihood of a negative impact on the health and safety culture of organisations, leading to a lowering of standards; less opportunity for duty-holders and regulators to spot trends and incidents that could have resulted in more serious injuries; and overall less compliance with RIDDOR – under which around half of all non-fatal workplace injuries currently go unreported.

Around 8 per cent of respondents felt the change would have no advantage for either their organisation, or the national health and safety system. A number of others, including IOSH, the CBI and trades unions, while supporting the change, called for a fuller review of the Regulations. Head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, Richard Jones, said: "In our own survey on RIDDOR, members were two-to-one in favour of the change, but a significant number had concerns that this would lead to ‘over three-day’ accidents being trivialised. We also believe a wider review of RIDDOR is needed.”

To this end, the HSE has signalled its intention to look at wider issues surrounding RIDDOR 12 months after the current amendment comes into effect, which is likely to be from 6 April next year.

Jason Cropper, a regulatory lawyer and director at DWF, said the move could mean that health and safety will no longer be at the forefront of duty-holders’ minds. Echoing his colleague Steffan Groch, who spoke on the proposed changes to RIDDOR at the SHP Legal Arena at the NEC in May, Mr Cropper said: “I think this change will diminish what health and safety is about, and affect how seriously it is taken in organisations.

“The quality of data collection, too, will be poorer, which will cause the HSE all sorts of problems. It will be less able to understand trends in injuries and occurrences and therefore affect how it strategically targets resources over the medium to long term.”

Given that under-reporting of injuries and incidents is already a huge problem, Mr Cropper said the change to the over-seven-day period is likely to make things “significantly worse”.

The HSE’s chief statistician, however, assured the board that the regulator would still be able to spot trends “for the whole of the workforce and each sector, and feed these into the HSE’s planning process”.

Source: SHP 18 Aug. 11


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