Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Reporting of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences) Regulations 2016 (“the Reporting Regulations”)

The Reporting Regulations were introduced recently with little fanfare but are worth flagging. They have updated the position on the reporting of accidents and dangerous occurrences at work.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 defined an accident as an incident arising out of or in the course of employment which, in the case of a person carrying out work, results in personal injury. Personal injury was defined by the 2005 Act as any injury, disease, disability, occupational illness or any impairment of physical mental condition, and any death that is attributed to work. It is of note that the new Reporting Regulations only provide for the reporting of fatal and non-fatal injuries.

Although the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 1993 have long since been updated and replaced, Part 10 of those Regulations which dealt with the reporting of accidents was a little bit of an anomaly and remained in force until replaced in 2016.

The 2016 Regulations introduced the following changes to the 1993 position:

  • The requirement for reporting of injuries involving members of the public was changed. The requirement now only pertains to injuries which result in the person needing to be taken to the hospital for treatment.
  • No longer a requirement for a family member to report a fatal accident involving a self-employed person.
  • The timeline for the making of the reports changed. Fatal injuries must be reported within 5 working days and non-fatal injuries to be reported within 10 working days.
  • Clarification is provided as to when incidents involving pre-existing medical conditions are not reportable to the HSA.
  • The 2016 Reporting Regulations provide that a written report of death must be sent to the Authority within 5 days. The 1993 position provided that the report should be sent “as soon as practicable”.
  • Wind farm blade disintegration included in reportable dangerous occurrences to account for the increase in wind farms in the State.

The 2016 Regulations maintained the following main elements of the 1993 Regulations:

  • Fatal accidents in the workplace must be reported immediately to the HSA or Gardaí. A formal report should be submitted to the HSA within 5 working days of the death.
  • Non-fatal injuries to employees while at work that result in the employee being unable to carry out normal work duties for more than 3 consecutive days, excluding the day of the accident must be reported.
  • A list of dangerous occurrences which must be reported to the HSA is contained in Schedule 15.
  • Non-fatal accidents or dangerous occurrences should be reported within 10 working days of the event.

Accounting for wind farms is a welcome introduction to health and safety regulation in Ireland. The update reflects the developing construction landscape in Ireland. The number of wind farms in Ireland has seen significant growth from the introduction of the first wind farm in 1992 to now 276 wind farms being on the island of Ireland.

The 2016 Regulations did not address occupational ill health as proposed in the 2012 draft Reporting Regulations. Occupational ill health (formally occupational diseases) is the general term for a variety of health problems and diseases that have been caused by or made worse by a person’s work. The practical result of not addressing occupational ill health is that diseases, occupational illnesses and any impairment to mental conditions will continue to go unreported.

The existence of these recent Reporting Regulations is worth registering with all those charged with health and safety responsibilities.