by Alan Hickey, Service and Operations Director, Peninsula Ireland
Although you may have preventative measures in place, accidents at work can still happen. When they do, it’s important that you investigate what happened and why. But it doesn’t end there.
How you address an accident is equally important. That’s because certain workplace accidents must be reported to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
Here, we look at how to report an accident at work and how doing so can benefit workplace health and safety in the long term.
Accidents, claims, and employer responsibility
Accidents at work and compensation claims are never open and shut cases. The injured party must prove that there was negligence on the part of a third party e.g., your business. This, of course, can be prevented from the outset if proper measures are put in place.
In Ireland, under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Regulations 2016, employers are legally obligated to report certain accidents to the Health and Safety Authority.
Furthermore, the HSA carry out workplace inspections and audits businesses for compliance with health & safety standards. If you fail to comply and maintain the set standards, further investigation may follow. Through these HSA reports, you can recognise high-risk areas in the workplace and implement appropriate measures.
What kind of accidents need to be reported?
While all accidents at work should be reported, some need to be reported to the HSA. As stated in the HSA’s Accident and Dangerous Occurrence Reporting, the following accidents should be reported:
- Only fatal and non-fatal injuries. Diseases, occupational illnesses, or any impairments of mental condition are not reportable.
- Fatal accidents must be reported immediately to the Authority or Gardaí. Subsequently, the formal report should be submitted to the Authority within five working days of the death.
- Non-fatal accidents or dangerous occurrences should be reported to the Authority within ten working days of the event.
- Injuries to any employee as a result of an accident while at work where the injury results in the employee being unable to carry out their normal work duties for more than three consecutive days, excluding the day of the accident, must be reported to the Authority.
Now that we’ve clarified how and where serious accidents should be reported, let’s look at accident reporting for your business.
How to report an accident at work
First and foremost, when an employee of yours is involved in an accident, it must be reported to you. That includes all accidents, near-miss incidents, and dangerous occurrences in the workplace.
It is then your responsibility to submit a report to the HSA and follow through with an accident risk assessment.
Consider these steps when reporting an accident:
- Submit a HSA accident report form.
- Document the accident in detail. Take note of the entire incident and any health & safety breaches.
- Ensure the scene of the accident remains undisturbed (unless there are still possible threats of danger).
- Wait for an HSA inspector (and possibly Gardaí) to investigate the accident and establish the circumstances for the incident.
Retain any evidence and documentation you’ve gathered as you’re required to store accident reports for 10 years from the date of the accident.
Why is it important to report workplace accidents?
The health and safety of staff, customers, clients, and impromptu visitors is paramount for every business. For that reason, strong and effective health & safety policies must be in place.
Both yours and the safety rights of your employees are set out under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The Act includes penalties for any business found to be in breach of health and safety legislation.
Depending on the seriousness of the breach or outcome of the accident, you could face hefty fines, business closure, or criminal prosecution. So, it’s important to report accidents to the HSA when necessary and familiarise yourself with any updates to health and safety legislation affecting your industry.