Revised draft Regulations were published earlier this year and are currently being considered by the Health & Safety Authority. If introduced, they will make some changes to the reporting of workplace accidents and in particular, will require the reportage of “occupational illnesses”.
The current law, applying since the 1993 (General Application) Regulations, requires the reportage of deaths and injuries taking place either at work, or during work off-site. The reporting obligation extends to visitors who may be injured at a workplace, where they need medical attention. Deaths require to be reported immediately, and injuries and dangerous occurrences require to be reported if they result in the employee being unable to carry out their normal duties for three calendar days, not including the date of the accident, but including days that they do not normally work. Certain road traffic accidents are also included.
The relevant Incident Report Form (IR1) can be completed on line at www.hsa.ie but if you want to fill out a hard copy, you must obtain a copy of the form from the Workplace Contact Unit, Health & Safety Authority, The Metropolitan Building, James Joyce Street, Dublin 1. They will not accept photocopies. A scanned version of the form is attached for ease of reference.
It is an offence not to report an accident that should be reported. The obligation rests with the “responsible person” being the employer, or the person in control of the workplace, or in the case of a self employed person, the owner or tenant of the workplace or their next of kin.
Records of such accidents must be maintained for ten years and details must be furnished to the Health & Safety Authority, if requested. The Health & Safety Authority and its Inspectors have extensive powers under Section 64 of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005, to demand information, documents, access to personnel for interview and so on.
The only defence available is to be able to demonstrate that you are not aware of the accident and that you had taken all reasonable steps to be made aware.
The draft Regulations were put out for consultation earlier this year and do make a number of changes, including requiring the reporting not only of accidents and dangerous occurrences, but also of “occupational illnesses” to be referenced to an approved list. It will likely be of concern to employers, in weighing up their obligation to report, that they may be inappropriately conceding that an illness is of an occupational nature in making the notification.