We recently attended a briefing session in London where the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was represented and RIDDOR was commented on. The key changes to RIDDOR is moving the reporting of over 3 days incidents to 7 days and increasing reporting time lines from 10 to 15 days.
The message seems clear that many small businesses do not understand when or how they need to report under the RIDDOR regulations; which is one of the main reasons RIDDOR is so badly under reported (estimated as at least 40% by the HSE).
So will the changes to RIDDOR help these businesses; well certainly the need to report less often probably will. An example cited was that for a small manufacturing business the frequency of probable reporting would move from once every 3 years to once every 15 years. However it was stressed that businesses would still be expected to record the events and undertake internal investigations for internal controls reason and to report to their insurers. It was also highlighted that it was unlikely to make much of a monetary saving as the estimated cost of generating a RIDDOR report is only £7.91.
However the FSB feel that this reduction in reporting would help but were less positive that the move to on-line reporting could prove a bad thing in parts of the country where internet access is poor. They are also concerned that as the HSE info line is being withdrawn where will small businesses go for health and safety advice and information. Clearly access to good cost effective health and safety advice is going to be a key requirement
In our experience its not only small businesses that fail to understand RIDDOR and many other of the health and safety regulations and the HSE are aware of the need to provide clear easy to follow guidance. However it remains the businesses responsibility to ensure it is meeting its legal requirements and this may require access to competent advice. Clearly for some businesses this can be best served by seeking external expertise but for many others may require better training of internal personnel.
We would recommend that all businesses take a look at what is most appropriate for them and either seek suitable assistance or to ensure staff are trained to a proportionate level to the risks within the business.