School Accident and Incident Reporting
Practical advice on the legislation and best practice guidance governing incident & accident reporting in schools
An incident happening on school premises might be as serious as a broken limb or something less worrying such as a short nosebleed. When does an incident become an accident and what is the appropriate way to record it?
RIDDOR Reportable Accidents
There are certain accidents/incidents which are well defined within RIDDOR, which legally have to be reported to the HSE by filling in their online form. As you would expect these include serious occurrences such as death and major injuries. Additionally, in order to qualify as RIDDOR reportable, an incident must have happened in relation to the workplace and its related activities.
Reporting incidents allows for the HSE to explore trends and provide guidance for overcoming such trends in the future. For example, amongst staff in schools, 52% of all self-reported work-related ill health involved mental health. In education around 2.1 million working days (full day equivalent) were lost each year between 2016/17 and 2018/19 due to: workplace injury (10%) and work-related illness (90%). Being aware of statistics such as these allows for schools to adapt their practice accordingly.
The Accident Book
However, not all accidents are RIDDOR reportable but still need to be entered in the work Accident Book. Many people think that the accident book is a health and safety requirement. However, the law on accident books doesn't come from a health a safety regulation at all. The legal requirement for an accident book comes under the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979 .
Every owner or occupier (being an employer) of any mine or quarry or of any premises to which any of the provisions of the Factories Act 1961 F1 applies and every employer by whom 10 or more persons are normally employed at the same time on or about the same premises in connection with a trade or business carried on by the employer shall, subject to the following provisions of this paragraph—
- keep readily accessible a book or books in a form approved by the Secretary of State in which the appropriate particulars (as defined in regulation 24) of any accident causing personal injury to a person employed by the employer may be entered by that person or by some other person acting on his behalf;
- preserve every such book, when it is filled, for the period of 3 years beginning with the date of the last entry therein.
This makes it a legal requirement for all organisations with 10 or more employees to record accidents in the workplace (even if they are not RIDDOR reportable). The Accident Book requires the following information:
- Full name, address and occupation of the injured person
- Date and time of the accident
- Place where the accident happened
- Cause and nature of the injury
- Name, address and occupation of the person giving the notice, if someone other than the injured person.
In the form template provided by the HSE in their official accident book product, they ask for details of where and when the accident happened, and what happened. This is best completed by the injured person, as the person who had the accident is likely to have the fullest picture of what exactly happened. The employer can then investigate to determine the cause of the accident. The results of the accident investigation and any additional safety measures implemented can be kept with the accident record to give a full picture. This may include accounts from other witnesses of the accident, and lessons learnt. This gives a complete record of the accident should a claim be made, but should also be seen as an opportunity to improve health and safety and prevent future accidents.
What is an "accident?"
But what constitutes an Accident that needs to be entered in the Accident Book – a papercut, a nosebleed? Unfortunately, there is no actual definition. Many businesses chose to define an accident as something that requires a first aid intervention for it to go into the Accident Book. Where children are involved, a school may have a stricter definition. As you can see, recording an incident in the Accident Book involves collating a fair amount of information, this is potentially a lot of administrative overhead for an upset stomach or small nosebleed, incidents that happen on a daily basis in schools.
These incidents may not necessitate a full accident report but should be noted in a central school record and communicated to parents. An isolated nosebleed probably isn’t a cause for concern but if the records show it’s happening frequently this will need to be followed up. A recording solution such as an incident reporting template will accomplish this with a simple, checklist formula, keeping paperwork to a minimum but noting the salient points for any future reference. Alternatively a school may choose to use an incident and accident reporting software platform. This database product can record and categorise incidents and accidents appropriately, collecting simple details for a minor incident or comprehensive information where the accident is RIDDOR reportable including a copy of the RIDDOR HSE submission, photographs and witness statements.
Blog: First Aid in Schools
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