WORK? TSSA Rep s Bulletin Ref: H&S/012/JUNE2001

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1 TSSA Rep s Bulletin Ref: H&S/012/JUNE2001 WORK? Introduction The purpose of this bulletin is to provide members with a brief description on:! the law on accidents and injuries at work! the CIRAS scheme for rail industry staff! how any member can submit a personal injury claim, if they or those in their immediate family, suffer an injury at work or on the way to or from work The Health & Safety Committee (HSC) announced on the 7 May 2001 that "employers should have a compulsory duty to investigate workplace incidents", and would be consulting on how to legislate for this 1. The HSC are proposing a compulsory duty for all companies and organisations to investigate all reportable work-related accidents, ill health or 'near misses' which could have resulted in serious injury. They are also considering whether this new duty should also be extended to non-reportable accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that if every single reportable incident not at present investigated by employers was investigated and acted upon, this could save society up to 1.8 billion per year in preventable incidents, including 600 million to businesses. Their proposals - which would require an amendment to present health and safety law - would require employers to:! investigate all reportable incidents to find out how they happened and how they might be prevented in future 1 HSE Press Release C023:01-7 May 2001! keep a record that an investigation has been carried out and that its conclusions have been taken into account in revising the workplace risk assessment. Such records would be kept for a minimum of three years and could be subject to scrutiny by the HSE and its inspectors. Existing law on Accident Reporting Under the Social Security (Claims & Payments) Regulations, factory employers or any employer who employs 10 or more people must record all accidents, however minor the injuries. The record, which is normally an accident book should be kept in an accessible place and may be inspected by enforcing officers. Accident books should be stored for at least three years after the date of the last entry. RIDDOR 95 2 RIDDOR '95 is the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, which came into force on 1 April RIDDOR '95 requires the reporting of workrelated accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences. It applies to all work activities, but not to all incidents. Why it is essential to report Reporting accidents and ill health at work is a legal requirement for employers. The information enables the enforcing authorities to identify where and how risks arise and to investigate serious accidents. The enforcing authorities can then help and advise employers on preventive action to reduce injury, ill health and accidental loss. The HSE state that workplace incidents continue to be a cause for concern and provisional figures 2

2 for 1999/2000 show there were 216 workrelated deaths and over 181,000 work-related injuries in Britain's workplaces 3. Who are covered by the Regulations Employers, the self-employed or those in control of work premises all have duties under the Regulations. When does an employer need to act? The Regulations oblige the reporting of:! Deaths! major injuries! accidents resulting in 3 days off work! diseases! dangerous occurrences Death or major injury If there is an accident connected with work and:! an employee, or a self-employed person working at your place of work is killed or suffers a major injury (including as a result of physical violence)! or a member of the public is killed or taken to hospital Then the responsible person, usually the employer or person in control of premises where such an event has occurred must notify the enforcing authority without delay. Reportable major injuries are: Fracture other than to fingers, thumbs or toes;! amputation;! dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine;! loss of sight (temporary or permanent);! chemical or hot metal burn to the eye or any penetrating injury to the eye;! injury resulting from an electric shock or electrical burn leading to unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours;! any other injury: leading to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or unconsciousness; or requiring resuscitation; or requiring admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours; 3 HSE Press Release C023:01-7 May 2001! unconsciousness caused by asphyxia or exposure to harmful substance or biological agent;! acute illness requiring medical treatment, or loss of consciousness arising from absorption of any substance by inhalation, ingestion or through the skin;! acute illness requiring medical treatment where there is reason to believe that this resulted from exposure to a biological agent or its toxins or infected material. Over-three-day injury If there is an accident connected with work (including an act of physical violence) and an employee, or a self-employed person working at your premises, suffers an over-three-day injury your employer must report it to the enforcing authority within ten days. An over-three-day injury is one which is not major but results in the injured person being absent from work or unable to do their normal work for more than three days (including any days they would not normally be expected to work such as weekends, rest days or holidays) not counting the day of the injury itself. Disease If a doctor notifies a member of staff that he or she is suffering from a reportable workrelated disease then the employer must report it to the enforcing authority. Reportable diseases include:! certain poisonings;! some skin diseases such as occupational dermatitis, skin cancer, chrome ulcer, oil folliculitis/acne;! lung diseases including: occupational asthma, farmer's lung, pneumoconiosis, asbestosis, mesothelioma;! infections such as: leptospirosis; hepatitis; tuberculosis; anthrax; legionellosis and tetanus;! other conditions such as: occupational cancer; certain musculoskeletal disorders; decompression illness and hand-arm vibration syndrome. Dangerous occurrence If an incident occurs which does not result in 2

3 a reportable injury, but which clearly could have done, then it may be a dangerous occurrence which must be reported immediately to the enforcing authority by the employer. The responsibilities of the selfemployed If a self-employed person is working on your premises and suffer either a major injury or an injury which means they cannot do their normal work for more than three days, then they will be responsible for reporting. The employer where the contractor is working should advise them of their obligations. Where do employers report to? All accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences may be reported by your employer to the Incident Contact Centre. The Contact Centre was established on 1st April 2001 as a single point of contact for receiving all incidents in the UK. The Incident Contact Centre will forward details of incidents to the relevant enforcing authority, either the environmental health department of the local authority or the area office of the Health and Safety Executive, depending on the type of business concerned. Keeping records An employer must keep a record of any reportable injury, disease or dangerous occurrence. This must include the date and method of reporting; the date, time and place of the event, personal details of those involved and a brief description of the nature of the event or disease. Records on reportable events must be retained for three years. Guidance on keeping records An employer could, for example, choose to keep their records by:! keeping copies of report forms in a file;! recording the details on a computer;! maintaining a written log. Accident Reporting and H & S Reps The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations (SRSCR) give reps the right to conduct an inspection after there has been a notifiable accident or dangerous occurrence or where a notifiable disease has been contracted. The regs say reps can inspect where it is reasonably practicable for them to do so, provided it is safe to do so and in the interests of employees represented. Following an incident, the only acceptable reason for anything to be moved is as a precaution against further hazards and for rescue purposes. The regs support reps rights to take witness statements after an accident has occurred. By consulting your constituents on a regular basis regarding workplace accidents you can monitor how successful your company is in recording workplace accidents and then implementing preventative measures. Consider suggesting workplace accident management as a regular item at joint management and safety representative committees. Request at safety meetings that the company s records of incidents be made available for regular examination; they will show what progress the company is making in reducing the occurrence of workplace accidents and if a problem exists, whether it is changing. If the preventative measures are working well, this suggests the present policies are effective. If workplace accidents are still a problem, the company must identify, consider and implement other preventive measures, and must consult H&S reps on such measures. This announcement by the HSC regarding a new legal duty for employers to investigate certain accidents will provide further opportunities for H & S reps and their constituents to contribute to workplace health and safety. Clearly, the principle of this proposed measure represents best practice and reps should request, where appropriate, that all accidents are investigated as per the HSE s guidelines. Confidential Incident Reporting & Analysis System (CIRAS) 4 CIRAS is the Confidential Incident Reporting and Analysis System developed and operated by the Centre for Applied Social Psychology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 4 3

4 Scotland. CIRAS is a method of collecting confidential data from safety critical staff in the railway industry, and produces reports of a type which rarely come to light through the official reporting and investigation procedures of the industry concerned. CIRAS is a confidential reporting system and all data are held on a non-networked and secure data base at the University. This data base is never revealed to industry management. However, disidentified reports are provided to management at three monthly intervals, to inform them of what has been reported. The philosophy of the system is that it is more important to know what has been going on, than who is doing it. The system is thus free from associations with official or disciplinary procedures. The first step in the CIRAS process requires employees either to complete a brief report form, or alternatively to phone their report direct to CIRAS. Report forms are available at depots, booking on points and a form also appears at the back of the CIRAS journal. The information contained on the report form is then entered on the CIRAS data base. Where further information, or clarification of a report is required, a follow up interview is requested. This takes place only if the employee is agreeable, at a place and time outwith work. The report form is then returned to the employee and no copies are made. Thereafter it is impossible to link a particular report to a particular employee. The information gained at interview and from the report forms is then collated and passed to management in an anonymised form. The information is also compiled and used to provide feedback to staff grades about what has been reported via the CIRAS journal. The CIRAS journal is published quarterly and also includes the management response to issues and the actions to be taken to address the situations and incidents reported. The system has two main aims. Firstly, to provide data of a type that do not normally go through official reporting procedures; and secondly, to provide a human factors data base to complement existing data bases which tend to be dominated by technical failures. The data are analysed in a variety of ways, using human-factors and discourseanalytic frameworks developed by this unit. The CIRAS system remains the property of Strathclyde University, who own the intellectual property rights, the data base, and the data that are on it. It remains fully independent of any rail or rail-related company. Briefing of more than 70,000 rail staff about CIRAS is on schedule 5 and rail companies throughout the country have signed up to CIRAS. The system, based on a scheme run by the University of Strathclyde, is open to Railway Group members and other participating companies, and comprises a core facility supported by three regional centres. The University of Strathclyde operates the new core facility and runs the regional centre covering the Railtrack zones of Scotland and London North East which control the East Coast main line. Warrington based WS Atkins Consultants Ltd operates a second region taking in the Railtrack zones of the North West, Midlands and East Anglia. The third region - taking in the areas covered by Southern and Great Western zones - is based in Farnborough, Hants, and will be operated by DERA, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. Railway Safety, the subsidiary company of Railtrack plc and the successor to the Safety and Standards Directorate, will continue to fund the cost of the core facility throughout The cost of the regional centres is paid for by participating companies. Under the new scheme employees are able to report concerns to the regional centres which conduct follow-up interviews and provide data to a national database. In addition, each regional centre publishes quarterly journals for users, reporting on regional and national findings. The core facility contributes articles to these journals and publishes twice-yearly reports with high level information aimed at senior 5 4

5 management. This will be used to drive safety improvements 6. The TSSA supports the important work of CIRAS and is confident that its members in the rail industry will contribute to its effective functioning. Personal Injury Claims 7 Should any TSSA member, or those in their immediate family, suffer any accident/personal injury at work, or on the way to or from work, then they may need the help of our solicitors. Last year, we obtained well over 1,000,000 in compensation for personal injuries suffered by our members; unlike some other organisations we don't take a proportion of the compensation or charge a fee for making a claim. A TSSA accident/injury form should be completed and returned to the TSSA Head Office (a copy can be requested by contacting Head Office or from our website at Upon receipt of a completed form the member will receive an acknowledgement and confirmation that their case has been passed to the TSSA's solicitors for their consideration. It usually takes around three weeks for the solicitors to respond direct to the member. Free membership Remember, that under certain circumstances members are entitled to free membership. Members who are off sick, whatever the cause, qualify for free membership when they stop drawing full basic pay. All they have to do is notify in writing the Finance & Administration Department at Head Office - we will then write to the member confirming the arrangement. or by contacting the HSE Information Centre infoline on , which is open 8.30am to 5.0pm Monday to Friday. You can also fax the HSE on , or on Written enquiries to the Information Centre should be sent to HSE Information Services, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly, Mid Glamorgan, CF83 3GG. Labour Research Department (LRD) - 78 Blackfriars Rd, London SE1 8HF They provide a H & S enquiry service as part of their general service for affiliates and publish a monthly bulletin, Safety Rep, specifically for union safety reps. Their latest publication on H & S is Health and Safety Law a trade unionists guide (February 2001). TUC - Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS Produces a range of H & S publications, which can be ordered from its publications department. It also has a one stop health and safety shop for trade unionists which is a useful starting point for a wealth of information and links on H & S at work Railway Safety - For up to date information on CIRAS and other rail safety information visit - University of Strathclyde - For CIRAS information visit - Further Information Health & Safety Executive (HSE) A full list of reportable dangerous occurrences can be viewed at this HSE website

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