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Accident reporting

28 April 2005
Accident reporting

Employers in the hotel and catering industry have a duty to report and record certain details regarding accidents. The duty applies to both employers and owners or occupiers of premises.

There are two regimes for recording accidents:

• recording accidents in an accident book to comply with social security legislation and potential payment of industrial injuries benefit

• accidents or incidents of a more serious nature have to be notified and reported to the appropriate enforcing authority. The regulation that imposes this requirement is the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, known as RIDDOR.

What has to be reported under RIDDOR?

EVENT EXPLANATION

Fatalities Accidents causing injuries that result in death

Major injuries Major injuries include (but are not limited to) : fractures (other than to fingers, thumb, toes); a penetrating injury to the eye; any injury resulting from electric shock or electrical burn leading to unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours; and any other injury requiring admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours

"Over three-day" injury An accident to an employee, contractor or self- employed person that results in the person being absent from work for over three days (the day the accident happened is not counted)

Hospitalisation of non-employee Accidents in the workplace to non-employees (such as customers and contractors) where the person is taken from the employer's premises to the hospital as a result of the injuries sustained

Dangerous occurrence For example, an electrical short circuit that results in plant or equipment being shut down for 24 hours or which has the potential to cause the death of any person

Reportable disease For example, occupational dermatitis

Full details of the types of accident, injuries, dangerous occurrences and diseases are set out in RIDDOR.

Example of type of event that should be reported:

A customer slips on food and falls and is taken to hospital as a result of the fall. The food was spilt earlier in the day and not cleaned up by the catering establishment.

Example of event that is not reportable: Customers who suffer burns as a result of spilling their own food.

Who has to report?

A person with appropriate authority and competence within the organisation should be designated as responsible for reporting under RIDDOR. The regulations refer to the person who reports an event as being the responsible person. Specific people are designated responsible persons in the case of vehicles and driving operations.

How to report The local authority has to be notified by the quickest practicable means (which is likely to mean a telephone call on the day of the accident or incident) and a written report has to be sent not later than 10 days after the event.

Reports can be submitted to the local council office or to the centralised RIDDOR reporting centre. The Incident Contact Centre was established in 2001 as a single point of contact for receiving all incident reports in the UK. The ICC can be contacted on 0845 3009923 or a form can be completed by fax or on line. For further details, visit http://www.riddor.gov.uk/.

Keeping records An employer is required to make and retain internal records in connection with the RIDDOR event for a period of at least three years following the incident. The records should contain:

• the date and details of how the event was reported to the local authority

• the date, time and place of the event

• the personal details of those involved

• a brief description of the nature of the event.

The records should be kept at either the place where the work to which it relates is carried out or at the usual place of business of the designated responsible person.

Penalties An employer who fails to comply with RIDDOR may commit an offence and be liable on conviction to:

• a fine not exceeding level five on the standard scale, currently £5,000 in a magistrates' court

• an unlimited fine in a crown court.

Note: Accidents or incidents may have been caused by breaches of other health and safety legislation. The penalties for breaching other legislation may be heavier than those for failing to comply with RIDDOR.

Developments In order to comply with the duty to review and revise risk assessments under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 employers are required to carry out internal investigations of reportable incidents. In 2004 the Health and Safety Executive published new guidance on how to investigate accidents and incidents, including near misses, in order to aid employers.

Roy Tozer is a Partner in the Regulatory Group of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary UK LLP. roy.tozer@dlapiper.com

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