Why is accident and dangerous occurrence reporting required?

Developing successful prevention policies requires an understanding of the prevalence and trends of certain accident types, and such understanding is based on up-to-date and reliable information. The accident and dangerous occurrence reports provide the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) with data that assists in targeting activities and advising employers on preventing injuries and accidental loss. A small proportion of the more serious accidents are investigated by HSA inspectors.

 

What accidents and personal injuries are reportable?

An accident is an unplanned event resulting in death, or resulting in an injury such as a severe sprain or strain (for example, manual handling injuries), a laceration, a broken bone, concussion or unconsciousness.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 contains the following definitions:

  • ‘accident’ means an accident arising out of or in the course of employment which, in the case of a person
    carrying out work, results in personal injury.
  • ‘personal injury’ includes –
    (a) any injury, disease, disability, occupational illness or any impairment of physical or mental condition, and
    (b) any death,
    that is attributable to work.

There are three situations in which an accident should be reported:

  1. arising in the course of employment resulting in personal injury to the person carrying out the work activity. This could be an injury to an employee who is actually doing the work. For example: an employee dislocates a shoulder while manually moving a heavy load or an employee dealing with the public is assaulted.
  2. arising in the course of employment which results in personal injury to an employee who was not doing the work that is the subject of the accident. For example: a shelving system collapses and injures an employee who is passing by the scene at the time of the collapse.
  3. arising from a work activity which results in personal injury to a person outside of the course of employment. This could be an injury to a non-employee or member of the public. For example: a load falls from a truck that is being used for work purposes, and causes an injury to a member of
    the public who is not at work.

Examples of incidents that are not reportable include those where:

  • an employee or a self-employed person is absent as a result of an accident for more than three days, but the absent days are not consecutive.
  • an employee is injured in a traffic collision while commuting to or from work.
  • a patient of a registered medical practitioner dies, is injured or suffers ill health while undergoing medical treatment, unless the treatment is being carried out as a result of a workplace incident. Medical treatment
    includes treatment such as the administration of medicines by any route, surgical procedures or dressing of wounds.

However, patient care that is part of everyday patient management is not considered medical treatment and, in these cases, an incident may be reportable. For example, patient handling that includes the moving of patients, whether in bed or from place to place, is not considered medical treatment. Cleaning and bathing are other examples of patient care that are not considered medical treatment.

 

What dangerous occurrences are reportable?

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 contains the following definition:  ‘dangerous occurrence’ means an occurrence arising from work activities in a place of work that causes or results in:

  • (a) the collapse, overturning, failure, explosion, bursting, electrical short circuit discharge or overload, or
    malfunction of any work equipment,
  • (b) the collapse or partial collapse of any building or structure under construction or in use as a place of
    work,
  • (c) the uncontrolled or accidental release, the escape or the ignition of any substance,
  • (d) a fire involving any substance, or
  • (e) any unintentional ignition or explosion of explosives,
    as may be prescribed.

 

Who is responsible for reporting?

Employers, self-employed, landlords, owners and tenants all have a duty to report accidents and dangerous
occurrences to the HSA.

 

Reporting requirements – employers

Fatal accidents in a workplace should be reported immediately to the Authority or the Gardaí so that the necessary action, including any investigation by the Authority, can take place. Subsequently, the formal accident report form should be submitted to the Authority within five working days of the death. Non-fatal accidents or dangerous occurrences should be formally reported within 10 working days of the event.

Firstly, in relation to your employees:

  • You must report the death of an employee if this is as a result of an accident at work. The accident may have taken place either at your place of work or at another employer’s place of work, or in a location other than the normal place of work.
    The following are examples of reportable fatalities:
    – Your employee is fatally injured as a result of being hit by a delivery truck in your yard.
    – Your employee is fatally injured while driving for work on a public road.
    – Your employee is fatally injured while carrying out contract work for another employer at their site.
  • You must report the injury of any employee as a result of an accident while at work where the injury results
    in your employee being unable to carry out their normal work for more than three consecutive days,
    excluding the day of the accident.
  • In calculating the days, you should include weekends and other non-working days.

The following are examples of reportable accidents:

  • An employee, which includes a trainee, who normally has Saturday and Sunday off work, is injured on Wednesday and returns to work the following Monday.
    – A driver or a passenger is involved in a road traffic accident while driving or riding in the vehicle in the
    course of work and he is out of work for more than three days.
    – An employee, while lifting boxes on Monday, hurts her back. She returns to work on Thursday but she
    can only do light duties for the next week. Even though she was not absent for more than three days,
    she could not perform her normal work for more than three days.
  • You must report any case where an employee dies as a result of an accident at work within one year of that accident, even if you had already reported the accident.

Secondly, in relation to non-employees (non-workers, members of the public, employees of another enterprise)
at your place of work:

  • You must report the death of a person who is not your employee and who is not at work, but who dies from an accident caused by a work activity at the place of work.
    For example, if you are responsible for road works and a member of the public is injured by a reversing vehicle in the course of the work, and subsequently dies as a result of their injuries, then you must report that accident.
  • You must report the injury of a person who is not your employee and who is not at work but who is injured
    from a work activity if the injured person has had to be taken from the location of the accident to receive
    treatment in respect of that injury in a hospital or medical facility. For the purposes of these Regulations,
    a medical facility can include a primary care facility, a medical care clinic, or a medical facility at a work site
    that is staffed by a registered medical practitioner.

The following are examples of accidents that must be reported:

  • A member of the public slips on liquid that has been spilled in the process of shelf-stacking in your shop, and if the extent of the injury requires that they must be brought by ambulance or other vehicle to a hospital or medical facility for treatment by a registered medical practitioner.
  • A visitor to a factory is overcome by fumes that escape accidentally from a process being carried on there. The person is removed to hospital and treated by a registered medical practitioner.
  • A patient with limited mobility is admitted to hospital for routine tests. During the tests the patient slips from the sling of the patient hoist and suffers a back injury, which requires them to remain in hospital overnight for medical treatment.
  • There is a road collision involving your employee driving for work and a member of the public driving a car. The member of the public is injured and required to be taken to and treated in hospital or medical facility.

 

Thirdly, in relation to a prescribed dangerous occurrence

  • Dangerous occurrences are required to be reported.

 

Preserving the scene of a fatal accident

All fatal accidents reported to the Health and Safety Authority are investigated by inspectors. When employers or others notify the Authority of a fatal accident in a workplace they should, if they have control of the scene of the accident, discuss with an inspector of the Authority the extent to which the scene is to be maintained. The Gardaí will ensure that the scene is left undisturbed until the inspector commences an investigation. Where appropriate, access should be restricted and items should not be removed. Employers may, however, take such steps as are necessary to make the scene safe.

 

When and how reports should be made

Fatal accidents in a workplace should be reported immediately to the HSA. Following the initial report and within five working days of the death, the formal report should be made in the approved form. This applies to any work-related death, including one that takes place within a year of a previously reportable accident. A non-fatal accident or dangerous occurrence should be formally reported within 10 working days of the event. Injuries should be reported using the online reporting system on the Authority’s website (www.hsa.ie).

 

Requirement to keep records

Those who are required to report accidents and dangerous occurrences under the Regulations are also required to keep records for a period of 10 years from the date of the incident. The records can be kept in the same format as the report made – that is, a copy of the report submitted to the Authority will suffice to meet the obligation.

 

Read More: Health & Safety Authority Publications – Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences