Big or small, report it all

Big or small, report it all

  • Date: Thursday 16th June 2022
  • PDF: Download

We all do our best to remain compliant and prevent harm from occurring to our employees, non-employees and members of the public by having suitable controls in place. Unfortunately, for various reasons, incidents still occur in the workplace.

Regardless of the type of incident, having a reporting procedure in place and an open culture that supports reporting are critical elements for ensuring a positive health and safety culture within the workplace. However, it’s not enough to just have an incident form and an increase in the number of near misses reported, companies must also ensure that sufficient processes are in place for investigation, analysis, feedback and declaration. Could you imagine if you were to suffer a serious accident at work to later find out that new controls were not implemented to prevent it from happening again, or the HSE were not informed?

What is an incident?

An incident is an undesired event that occurs in the workplace that could have, or has, resulted in harm, injury, death or damage. A near miss is an undesired event that on that occasion did not result in harm but under different circumstances could have; and an accident is an undesired event that has resulted in harm.

Why manage incident reporting?

There are many reasons and benefits to having a successful management system. These include:

  1. Prevent reoccurrences and more serious accidents
  2. Improve overall health and safety management in the workplace
  3. Save time and resources
  4. Maintain legal compliance
  5. Enhance general wellbeing in the workplace

What incidents need to be reported?

  • Unexpected events – any accident or situation that results in a serious psychological injury or non-fatal and fatal physical injury to an employee, non-employee, visitor or member of the public that can be attributable to the workplace or work activities
  • Adverse events – unintended harm caused through medical treatment instead of harm resulting from the disease or condition
  • Awareness events – risks of potential incidents that can happen in the line of duty
  • Near misses


The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) places a legal duty on the employer to notify the HSE and local authorities of certain incidents. In general, RIDDOR covers work-related activities and lists specified incidents within the following categories:

  • Non-fatal injuries to workers
  • Non-fatal injuries to non-workers
  • Work-related fatalities
  • Dangerous occurrences
  • Occupational diseases
  • Exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and biological agents
  • Diseases offshore
  • Gas-related injuries and hazards

When to report an incident

Ideally, it’s always best to report an incident internally as soon as physically possible after the event. Employers should be understanding and expect reports within a reasonable timeframe within which details of the event can be recalled with clarity. Employees can stipulate a specific timeframe, but essentially it is most important that the report is submitted.

Other benefits of quick reporting include informing the insurance provider at the start of the investigation, minimising the number of resources engaged in the process and keeping within the timeframe for reporting as set out in RIDDOR, which ranges from 10 to 15 days depending on the circumstance.

How to report an incident

Having robust internal procedures in place before an incident occurs is essential to ensure the correct processes are followed, accurate information is recorded and there is consistency between events. A report template for staff to use in hard or electronic format should include:

  • Type of incident and details of location, date, persons involved, witnesses and description of injuries
  • Detailed description of the incident to include the sequence of events, results of the event, observations of anything unusual and accounts of involved persons and witnesses.
  • Detailed description of treatment to include emergency services engagement, first aid / medical treatment and cleaning or remedial works at the incident site
  • Post-analysis of the incident to establish causes, breaches in compliance, effectiveness of control measures and any further controls required to be introduced

Reports that come under RIDDOR must be done in a particular manner, with online and telephone methods available and the use of the HSE form F2508. Further information is available in the HSE documents INDG453 ‘Reporting accidents and injuries at work’ and HSG245 ‘Investigating accidents and incidents.’

Getting it right

Many employees do not report or record incidents as they should because processes can often be time-consuming and arduous, resulting in only the most serious accidents being reported – or maybe none at all! Thankfully, in today’s digital world there are many systems that can streamline processes; however they must be selected with care as they are not always very user-friendly and can often add an additional barrier that prevents reporting.

The biggest successes are achievable through having a positive health and safety culture, where the importance of reporting all incidents is championed by leaders, resource is given to accurate reporting and, most importantly, good feedback is provided to the workforce once the investigation has been completed. Never underestimate the power of good communication and strong emotional intelligence post-incident. HSG48 ‘Reducing error and influencing behaviour’ is an excellent resource for understanding human factors in the workplace and how they can impact on culture.

Key reasons for managing health and safety in the workplace

We often start our articles and training sessions reminding people why we’re here in the first place, but this is a good topic to reaffirm that message at the end. Our three key reasons for managing health and safety in the workplace are:

  • Moral – it’s the right thing to do! No one should expect to leave work a different person, less of a person or not at all, as a result of health and safety. But we also acknowledge that, should the worst happen, we will do all we can to understand how and why it happened, and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.
  • Financial – breaks down into two areas: poor management leads to fines, wasted product and resources, insurance premium increases and poor reputation. However, good management avoids each of those and boosts morale and productivity within the workforce.
  • Legal – health and safety legislation is in place to give the minimum standards of compliance to ensure all reasonably foreseeable risks are controlled, so far as is reasonably practicable, to prevent the incident from occurring. Should the worst happen, there are legal requirements for employers to provide methods for reporting incidents, investigating them, declaring and reporting them further to the HSE etc., sharing information with relevant persons, reviewing risk assessments and consulting with employees on the introduction of additional controls.

Further information and guidance

SSG provide a range of services to support companies in the reporting, investigating and analysis of incidents through a range of consultancy services and training courses such as Accident Investigation and Representatives of Employee Safety.

Source: Dave Wright

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