The long-heralded changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) have finally taken effect.
From 6 April, the over three days category of reportable injury has changed to over seven days. Note that the period refers to incapacity from normal work, and includes any annual leave or off-shift days on which the person was incapacitated. If the person remains at work but is given light duties, this too is regarded as incapacity from normal work. The period by which employers must report such injuries has been extended from ten to fifteen days after the incident.
Note that there remains a duty to keep records of over three day injuries but this is easily complied with by ensuring that an entry is made in the employer’s accident book, itself a requirement of the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979. See “Publications’’ item below.
These regulations took effect last month, and replace the 2006 version. The changes are relatively few, and are mainly introduced because the EU had decided that the UK didn’t properly implement the original directive in earlier regulations.
There are now extra duties in relation to some types of nonlicensed work with asbestos, to do with notification, record-keeping and health surveillance. From 6 April, some nonlicensed work with asbestos has to be notified to the enforcing authority. There is a new obligation to keep records of non-licensed work that is notifiable, to include names of workers involved. There are also enhanced health monitoring duties that must be in place by April 2015.
A new seven-page leaflet has been published by the Health and Safety Executive to outline the requirement of RIDDOR, and bring the guidance in line with recent changes. It can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.hse.gov. uk/pubns/indg453.pdf
There may be a relaxation in the rules governing first-aid training. The following paragraph is taken from a letter written by Chris Grayling, the Minister responsible for HSE: “Whilst HSE recognises the benefits of refresher training and re-qualification, there is nothing in the regulations which legally requires first-aiders to refresh their training on an annual basis, nor is there a legal requirement for them to re-qualify every three years. Competence can be demonstrated in many ways and need not be exclusively classroom-based. “
This letter was to a first-aid training consortium that was concerned about a recommendation in Professor Ragnar Loftstedt’s independent review of health and safety legislation. The recommendation was to remove the requirement in the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 for HSE to approve training and qualifications for first-aiders in the workplace. Following the report, HSE is currently looking at possible options for implementing this.
The Minister did also make the point that there is no plan to change the statutory duty on employers to make adequate and appropriate first-aid provision in the workplace, and to have competent fist-aid personnel.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s “Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2012-2013” is entitled “Working together for risk prevention” and began last month. It is in response to the fact that one worker is killed every 3.5 minutes in the EU.
The programme is geared toward the benefits that can be gained from management leadership and from worker participation in occupational safety and health. Over the course of the campaign in the UK, HSE proposes to issue various updates and take initiatives such as roadshows and other publicity events. There is also to be a European-wide competition called “Good practice awards” intended to recognise employers who have found innovative ways to promote heath and safety. Entries are invited by 3 October, using a form that can be downloaded here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/campaigns /european/awards-form.htm
As a result of what have been described as “technical difficulties”, the Health and Safety Executive has been forced to defer the introduction of the planned scheme known as Fee for Intervention (FFI). This is the system by which the Treasury is able to recover the cost to the taxpayer of the enforcement authority’s time involved in dealing with employers who break health and safety laws.
HSE’s programme director, Gordon MacDonald, is quoted as saying “The Government has agreed that it is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse. Discussions are still taking place on the technical details of the scheme, which we expect to conclude soon. FFI will be introduced at the next available opportunity, which is likely to be October 2012.” Apart from sorting out the technical issues, HSE is using the delay as an opportunity to improve communication with employers about how the scheme will work and how it will affect them.
The Government is currently operating a number of pilot schemes that offer support to those in the early stages of sickness absence. Referrals are supposed to come from General Practitioners and smaller companies. However, only around 40% of the expected numbers of referrals have been made and just 30% of those referred have elected to take up the service. A cost benefit assessment will be made to consider whether to continue with the programme.
An insurance industry survey has found that 10% of business drivers admit to running red lights to save time. The survey also found that 14% of drivers take telephone calls without being in hands-free mode. With this level of complacency, employers are reminded of their responsibility to do all that they reasonably can to reinforce the need for company drivers to comply with the law.
Dimensions (UK) is a Reading-based charity that supports people with learning difficulties and autism. An investigation into safety procedures was instigated after a care worker was kicked in the eye by a violent client with a history of injuring members of staff.
HSE elected to bring a prosecution because the organisation had inadequate processes to control risks of violence from clients, and had failed to identify the triggers that would lead this particular client to become aggressive. Fines and legal costs brought the total penalty to £44,000.
After an employee fell through a loft hatch, Wells Cathedral School was faced with fines and costs of £9,812 at South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates’ Court.
The accident arose after the worker was helping a colleague to prepare storage boxes in an attic. When attempting to leave the area, the worker stood on the hatch but it was not strong enough to take her weight and she fell 2.5m to the ground.
The court was told that the school had previously identified the risk and had given verbal warnings but did not take any preventive measures. After the event, the facilities department arranged for the hatch to be boarded over.