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What are Accidents and Incidents?

There are many different definitions of accidents and incidents but the following are commonly used:

Accident – an unplanned event, which results in an injury, damaged plant and equipment or loss of production.

Incident – this is sometimes referred to as a near miss. In this case the same event as above may occur but by chance it doesn’t result in any injury or damage.

Dangerous Occurrence – can include overturning vehicles, release of gases, collapse of buildings or explosions.

All accidents and incidents, no matter how minor, need to be investigated to some degree to ensure that it can be assured that they are less likely to reoccur in the future and to assist in the monitoring of the health and safety management system. Certain types of more serious incidents need to be recorded or reported using the online form to the HSE Incident Contact Centre under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

When dealing with accidents and incidents some recommendations for employers are:

  • Ensure your organisation has an Accident Book available at each location or an equivalent means of recording accidents or incidents.

  • Ensure that the reports are removed from the accident book, evaluated and filed confidentially once completed.

  • Produce quarterly and/or annual reports showing accident trends.

  • Ensure that your organisation has an agreed process for accident investigation. For larger organisations it is recommended that the procedure is documented and includes clear instructions for managers on the actions to take in response to accidents including escalation arrangements.

  • Ensure that your organisation has arrangements to promptly identify incidents which are reportable under RIDDOR, arrangements for reporting these within required timescales and for maintaining records.

  • Ensure that you have trained first aid personnel and equipment.

Employees can assist their employer in meeting the legal requirement to record, investigate and report accidents at work by:

  • reporting near misses to help find the causes of accidents before someone is injured

  • reporting hazards when you spot them and not leaving that to someone else

  • reporting all accidents at work

  • when reporting accidents, ensuring you complete the accident book/ report fully to ensure your employer has all of the relevant details

  • informing your employer immediately if you have time off work because of a work related injury

  • volunteering to be a first aider

  • where necessary, being prepared to get involved in accident investigations

  • considering actions, which could be taken to prevent a re-occurrence of a similar accident or incident

For further help in correctly managing accidents and incidents in your workplace please contact us here.

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