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Health and Safety centre is set to cut red tape


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – in partnership with local authorities – launched a new incident-reporting service on Sunday, which covers all employers and businesses in the UK. Currently around 210,000 health and safety incidents are reported every year.

The service will operate from a new contact centre, which will:

  • provide employers with an integrated ‘one-stop shop’ for them to contact with details of all reportable work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences. This will create a more efficient incident reporting system across Great Britain;
  • reduce paperwork and give employers a choice of method for reporting incidents – either by internet, e-mail, phone, fax, or post;
  • publish information on a web site of reported incidents, broken down by type of incident, geographical region and sector. This information will be available within three months of the centre ‘going live’ and be updated in real time.

Reporting of incidents at work is a statutory requirement – currently set out in RIDDOR.

A reportable incident includes:

  • a death or major injury;
  • any accident which does not result in major injury, but the injured person still has to take more than three days off work to recover;
  • a work-related disease;
  • a member of the public being injured as a result of work-related activity and taken to hospital for treatment; or
  • a dangerous occurrence (which does not result in a serious injury, but could have done).

The person responsible for reporting is normally the employer. Under current RIDDOR arrangements, reports have to be sent either to the appropriate part of HSE or to one of the local authorities. If they wish, customers can still use the existing arrangements for reporting incidents to both HSE and local authorities in preference to the new incident-reporting centre. Both HSE and the local authorities act as enforcing authorities under these regulations, depending on the type of industry sector involved. Serious incidents must be reported quickly (usually meaning by phone) and then followed up with a paper report. A single report to the centre at Caerphilly now covers these requirements. Of the 210,000 reports currently received each year, about 160,000 are within HSE’s area of responsibility, and 50,000 within that of local authorities.

HSE Director General Timothy Walker said, “As part of our modern approach to doing business, the centre will provide a more streamlined service to employers. We are trying to ease the administrative burden by providing firms with a choice of how they notify us about work-related health and safety incidents. For those who require it, we will even fill in the paperwork for them.

“But there is a trade-off. Employers are required by law to notify us of all reportable incidents under RIDDOR, yet we estimate that only around one half of non-fatal injuries are currently being brought to our attention. The incidence of reporting cases of ill-health is even lower. Clearly this situation must improve and we are doing everything we can to ensure there are no excuses.”

Mr Walker praised the close working relationship between the HSE and local authorities, which the new centre exemplifies. He said, “Effective health and safety regulation depends upon a successful partnership between HSE and local authorities. All information will be stored on one database, which will be used by both enforcing authorities to decide which incidents warrant further investigation, as well as to provide them with a complete picture of the national safety performance of employers.”

Mr Walker concluded: “The public will also have access to the web site, which will provide accurate information – as it happens – on when, where and what type of incidents occur.”

The contact address for the administration of the service is:

Incident Contact Centre,
Caerphilly Business Park,
Caerphilly CF83 3GG,
South Wales

Railway and mines incident-reporting will operate under separate existing arrangements:

HM Railway Inspectorate has been operating an Accident Section for some years, offering the industry an equivalent of service. To report railway-related incidents, the telephone number is 020 7717 6521, and for fax 020 7717 6547.

HM Inspectorate of Mines’ incident-reporting service telephone number is 0114 291 2390, fax 0114 291 2399.

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