Accidents & Near Misses

All about accidents

Accidents and near misses happen.  We are all human, some of us are more accident-prone than others, and it is impossible to have a world where accidents and near misses are eliminated.

Everyone knows this, including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Once you accept this, it is easier to be less worried about how you will deal with the inevitable incident when it happens.  People are always worried about being blamed for something, about getting into trouble.  These concerns extend to the workforce.  Under-reporting of accidents and near misses is a big concern for the HSE and should be a concern for employers too.

Without reports, it is not possible to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.  Without report statistics, it isn’t possible to measure the progress being made to create a safer workplace.

Employers must encourage and nurture a positive attitude towards health and safety.  All workers must be reassured that reporting an accident or a dangerous occurrence will not automatically result in punishment. The most important thing is to find out what happened and make sure it cannot happen again.  End of!   

The relevant legislation

  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)
  • The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

Health and Safety Myth

Cannot service boiler as it is located in the loft and could cause an accident to service staff

A boiler service company refused to take on a new customer because their boiler was situated in the loft space of the house.  The company said that access to the boiler would present the risk of an accident to their employees.

The company concerned appears to have instigated a blanket policy which prevents their employees from entering a loft space without a fixed ladder.  Whether or not this is an overly cautious approach, the company has a right to set its own policy.  The complainant's best option is to find a different service provider who is prepared to assess the risk and enter his loft, given that this is a specific company policy, not something which is stipulated in regulation. 

Frequently asked questions

Some “near miss” events require reporting, for example:

  • The collapse, overturning or failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment;
  • Plant or equipment coming into contact with overhead power lines;
  • Explosions or fires causing work to be stopped for more than 24 hours;
  • The accidental release of any substance which could cause injury to any person.

Further information can be found at Dangerous occurrences - RIDDOR - HSE.

There are other categories of reportable near misses which apply to quarrying, mining and railways etc.

It’s very straightforward:

Completing RIDDOR forms does not mean you don’t have to also complete your own accident/incident report and investigation forms.  You must ALWAYS complete these – RIDDOR is an additional requirement in certain circumstances, as explained in the section on Accidents and Near Misses.

Everyone who was involved and/or witnessed the incident must write an account of what happened. The formal report should be completed by the Competent Person, Deputy Competent Person or a Senior Manager who must have taken into account all the written statements. Copies of all reports must be kept for at least four years (or as directed by your insurance company).