RoSPA occupational safety adviser Roger Bibbings

RoSPA Warns on Relaxed Injury Reporting Proposal

Lord Young's report proposed that employers have to report injuries only if they cause seven days of lost time, rather than the current three. The society says this is a bad idea.

Responding to a proposal in Lord Young's report for the new British government that employers have to report injuries only if they cause seven days of lost time, rather than the current three, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says this is a bad idea. At small companies, so much time would pass between required reports that the process would be forgotten, it warned April 20.

RoSPA weighed in because the Health and Safety Executive is accepting comments until April 29 about this and other proposals to amend the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) to reduce their burden on businesses, particularly small businesses, in response to the "Common Sense, Common Safety" report. Relaxing the injury reporting duty was one of the report's major recommendations.

Instead of relaxing the requirement, RoSPA urged that HSE increase its focus on employers' duty to record and investigate injuries, illnesses, and near-misses. The duty to notify HSE should be restricted to fatal and major injuries, cases of work-related illness on the "notifiable" list, and incidents on the list of "dangerous occurrences," according to the society, while employers should be required to investigate and keep internal records of all injuries requiring medical intervention, including injuries from work-related road crashes.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA's occupational safety adviser, calculated that, based on the 2008/09 over-three-day absence rate for the manufacturing sector, a firm with 25 workers today might expect to file an injury report once every four years. For similar-sized businesses in the services sector, it would be once every eight years. At an over-seven-day trigger, he estimated a small manufacturing firm could expect to file once every 14.6 years and a small services firm once every 30 years.

"This is such a long interval that corporate memory of the requirement and how to meet it would certainly have evaporated. Inevitably, someone in the company would have to take time out to find out afresh what to do. In all probability, ignorance of the reduced reporting requirement would mean that injury-related absence would go unreported altogether. If adopted, this change will mean that compliance with RIDDOR, which is currently only about 50 percent, will decline further," he said.

RoSPA is almost as old as the American Society of Safety Engineers and the National Safety Council; RoSPA was founded following a 1916 public meeting that brought about the creation of a "Safety First" Council in London to address increasing traffic accidents. The society remains involved in traffic safety, as well as occupational safety and training of OSH professionals.

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