RIDDOR Reform – Are you up to date?

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The new Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) came into force on 1 October 2013.  Under RIDDOR, hospitality and leisure operators are required to report certain types of workplace injury, illness and safety incident to HSE and the recent changes are intended to simplify reporting requirements in a number of areas.  Hospitality & Leisure operators should make sure their reporting systems take account of the changes by reviewing and amending their reporting policies, procedures and report forms and making sure that any individuals responsible for submitting RIDDOR reports are briefed on the changes.

The previous regulations had a list of 11 reportable “major injuries” which has been replaced with a list of eight “specified injuries”.  Although the list is broadly similar, some categories of injury, such as dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine have been removed, while the scope of other categories has been narrowed.  For example, the previous regulations required any amputation to be reported, while the new regulations narrow this to the amputation of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe.  Similarly, while previously any loss of sight, whether temporary or permanent was reportable, it is now only necessary to report blinding or loss of sight if it is permanent.

There have also been significant changes with respect to occupational diseases.  The earlier regulations set out 47 categories of occupational diseases which have now been cut to eight. The occupational diseases which remain reportable include carpal tunnel syndrome, occupational dermatitis, hand arm vibration syndrome and occupational asthma.  The new regulations also mean that occupational diseases will no longer need to be linked to specific work activities and occupations in order to be reportable.

A further change has been made in relation to dangerous occurrences, which are incidents which have not caused death or a reportable injury, but have a high potential to do so, and are often referred to as near-miss incidents.  The revised regulations reduce the number of types of dangerous occurrence that must be reported, albeit there are still 27 categories of reportable occurrences that operators need to be aware of.

There has also been a wider simplification of some of the requirements and language used, for example, in relation to reportable incidents involving lifting machinery, the previous regulations set out seven specific categories of lifting machinery.  The new regulations, however, simply refer to “any lifting equipment, other than an accessory for lifting”.  Although this may make the regulations seem more straightforward and give greater flexibility to respond to changing work practices and technology, it does have the potential to create an increased burden where it is necessary to refer to other legislation to check specific legal requirements, such as the definition of “lifting equipment”.

These changes are part of the Government’s wider efforts to reduce the burden of legal compliance where it is possible to do so without impacting the effectiveness of legislation.  However, each time the regulations change (RIDDOR requirements were last amended as recently as 2012) operators have to spend time getting up to speed with the changes.  There is also a potential drawback in reducing the scope of reporting requirements because the obligation to report an incident can encourage a greater level of scrutiny on the part of duty holders.  Any changes to the way in which data is measured and the type of data that is collected can also make it more difficult for both operators and the HSE to assess trends and compare statistics.  There is some concern, therefore, that opportunities to respond to and learn from incidents could be lost.

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