An accident is an unplanned event that results in injury, damage to property or some other loss. The law requires that certain work-related accidents are reported to the local authority or the Health and Safety Executive.
All accidents to employees, however minor, should be recorded. This is a requirement under social security legislation. As a result of a workplace injury an employee may need to claim for benefits in the future, and the relevant checks will be made to confirm that the accident occurred at work.
Reporting and recording procedures vary. Employers need to be sure that they satisfy all legal reporting requirements for employees and non-employees, and take measures to monitor accidents. As part of the reactive monitoring process, accident records are needed to assess whether the existing controls are adequate or to identify if trends are developing and to implement new procedures.
Records may also have to be produced for the Health and Safety Executive, to parents/guardians, or in the course of civil proceedings if a claim is brought following an incident.
The school or college should have clear guidelines on incident reporting and this should be conveyed to staff on the first day of their employment.
Accidents legally reportable to the enforcing authority
Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR), certain accidents that occur on or off site (eg during educational activities) must be reported to the Health and safety Executive or the local authority, whichever is in the circumstances the enforcing authority.
Employers must report the following accidents if they:
prevent the injured person from continuing his or her normal work for more than three consecutive days (excluding the day of the accident); or
result in death or 'major injury'.
Major injuries include:
fractures, except to fingers, thumbs or toes
dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine
temporary or permanent loss of sight
penetrating injury/chemical/hot metal burn to the eye
electric shock or electrical burn resulting in unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours
loss of consciousness caused by asphyxia, or exposure to harmful substances or biological agents
acute illness requiring medical treatment caused by exposure to a biological agent or its toxins or infected material
any other injury resulting in admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours, hypothermia, heat-induced illness, unconsciousness or the need for resuscitation.
Accidents to employees are work-related if they are attributable to:
work organisation (such as supervision on a school or college trip)
the conditions of the premises
plant or substances (eg machinery, equipment, etc)
acts of physical violence.
Where students and other people who are not at work (eg parents) are concerned, an accident must be reported if the person involved is killed or taken to hospital and the accident arises in connection with work.
Who is responsible for reporting accidents?
Employers are responsible for reporting accidents. In practice, schools and colleges tend to nominate a 'responsible person' to do so.
How to report an accident
All accidents can be reported to the Incident Contact Centre (ICC), Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly CF83 3GG. Alternatively, call on tel: 0845 300 9923 on Mondays to Fridays between 8.30am and 5.30pm, email firstname.lastname@example.org or report via the internet at www.riddor.gov.uk.
Fatal accidents, major injuries and dangerous occurrences must be reported without delay (eg by telephone). This should be followed by a report in writing within 10 days, using form F2508. The advice of the HSE can be sought if there is doubt as to whether the accident is reportable.
Near misses are incidents that have a potential for harm but result in no injury, eg a contractor's tool falling from a height and narrowly missing a teacher or student. Research shows that an injury accident is often preceded by several near misses, which are not reportable to the HSE. ATL therefore strongly advises schools and colleges to record near misses. Health and safety committees, when monitoring accidents, should take near misses into account.
If you have been injured at work
ATL members who are injured while at work are advised to retain a copy of their accident report. Our Personal Injury Claims Line, tel: 0800 083 7285, helps all members and their families who have suffered an injury, either in or outside of work. This service is available between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week, and calls are free. Legal proceedings must be commenced within three years of the date of the injury.
Need further advice?
Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.