How Does RIDDOR Apply to Schools?

November 20, 2019
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In an ideal world, workplaces would not have to face any accidents or cases of ill-health. Unfortunately, these can and do happen even in the most cautious of places.

It’s important that you know how to respond appropriately if an incident occurs in your school. This includes reporting certain situations involving staff or students to the authorities where required.

Child in a creative class

Throughout this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about RIDDOR in schools. It’ll clarify what situations are reportable and how to appropriately follow the necessary procedures.


What is RIDDOR?

RIDDOR stands for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. It requires businesses to keep records and report certain incidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that happen in relation to work. This also applies to schools, whether an accident happens to a member of staff or a student.

Not everything is reportable, but it’s important that you do record and report cases as required. Doing so enables authorities to hold workplaces accountable for failings in health and safety, as well as assess standards across the industry. This means they can prevent similar situations from occurring again and help keep people safe in the future.

Proper recording and reporting also enables you to evaluate your school’s procedures. It can help you to identify and correct any safety issues, so you keep the business compliant and everyone safe. Remember: failure to report an incident is breaking the law. It could result in serious consequences for your school.


What Must Schools Report Under RIDDOR?

Only certain incidents are reportable under RIDDOR. The first criteria is that the incident must have happened in relation to the workplace and its related activities. For example, asthma that is triggered by a known irritant in the workplace is reportable. However, if an asthma attack is caused by a cold virus, then it’s unrelated to work and isn’t reportable.

Teenagers in school uniforms walking to class

Requirements surrounding reportable incidents differ between staff and students. RIDDOR specifically lists a variety of reportable cases involving people at work, while the specifications for students are broader.

Reportable Cases Involving Staff
The responsible person in your premises must report work-related incidents to the HSE that:
  • Result in death or a specified injury.
  • Prevent the injured person from continuing their normal work for more than seven days (excluding the day of the incident).
  •  Lead to a reportable occupational disease, for which the employee has received a written diagnosis from a doctor.
Specified injuries include:

 

  • Fractures (excluding fingers, thumbs, and toes).
  • Amputations.
  • Loss or reduction of sight.
  • Crush injuries that cause internal organ damage.
  • Serious burns (those that cover more than 10% of the body or that damage the eyes, respiratory system, or other vital organs).
  • Scalping (skin being separated from the head) that requires hospital treatment.
  • Unconsciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia.
  • Any injury that results from working in an enclosed space and leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness, or resuscitation or hospital treatment for over 24 hours.

These are also reportable if they result from acts of non-consensual violence in connection to work in a school. For example, if a student injures a teacher during a lesson.

Reportable occupational diseases include:
  • Severe cramp of the hand or forearm.
  • Hand-arm vibration syndrome.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm.
  • Occupational dermatitis.
  • Occupational asthma.
  • Any occupational cancer.
  • Any disease caused by occupational exposure to a biological agent.

 

Reportable Cases Involving Students or Visitors
The responsible person in your school must report accidents to the HSE that happen to students or visitors if:
  • The incident occurred as a direct result of a work activity or lack of sufficient safety measures in the workplace.
  • The person dies or is taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment. Note that examinations and diagnostic tests are not considered treatment in this definition.

Students and visitors do not need to have specified injuries for these requirements to apply. Specified injuries apply to employees only.

The incident is reportable if it occurred in relation to:
  • Any school activity, both on or off the school premises.
  • Equipment, machinery, or substances in the school premises, e.g. equipment used in a woodworking class or chemicals used for a science lesson.
  • Poor management or organisation of a school activity, e.g. a lack of supervision.
  • Poor design or condition of the premises, e.g. badly maintained floors.
If you are on the Early Years Register, you must notify Ofsted if there is: An accident, injury, or death to a child on the school premises while they are under your care.

You do not need to notify Ofsted if the incident happens off the premises, to a child not in your care, or to anyone other than a child in your care.

If you are on the Childcare Register, you must tell Ofsted about:
  • Any serious accidents, injuries, or deaths to children or any other person on your premises, whether or not the child is in your care.
  • A child’s death that occurs while on the premises or at a later time, resulting from something that happened while the child was in your care.
  • Any serious injuries where a child in your care is taken to hospital, either directly from your premises or at a later time, which resulted from something that happened while the child was in your care.
  • Any significant incident which is likely to affect the suitability to care for children.
Incidents that are not reportable include:
  • Those that happen due to an existing medical condition, e.g. a student with asthma who is taken to hospital following an asthma attack not triggered by something related to how the school operates.
  • Those where the person goes to hospital purely as a precaution and has no apparent injury.
  • Sports injuries that are not connected to how the school manages the risks from the activity, e.g. those caused by normal ‘rough and tumble’ of the game.
  • Playground accidents due to collisions, slips, trips, and falls that are not related to the condition of the premises or the level of supervision.
  • Violence between pupils.
  • Injuries caused while travelling on a school bus, that result from a road traffic accident. These are classed as road traffic incidents and are investigated by the police. However, if pupils are getting on and off the bus and are injured and taken to hospital due to a vehicle striking the bus, this is reportable.
  • Any incidents involving pupils on overseas trips.
  • Incidents involving pupils who are elsewhere on a work placement. During work placements, students are considered an employee of the business at which they have a placement. This means that the criteria for reportable incidents involving staff apply and the business is responsible for reporting.

You can find further guidance on work experience for schools in our dedicated article: Work Experience Guidance for Schools – Do I Need a Young Person’s Risk Assessment?

 

Reportable Dangerous Occurrences (Near Misses)
You should also be aware that certain dangerous occurrences (near misses) are reportable, regardless of whether they may have involved a student or staff member. These include:

  • Load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment collapsing or failing.
  • Accidentally releasing a biological agent that is likely to cause severe human illness.
  • The accidental release or escape of a substance that may cause serious injury or damage to health.
  • An electrical short circuit or overload that causes a fire or explosion.

Examples of Reportable Accidents at School

To get more of an idea of what may or may not be reportable to RIDDOR in schools, have a look at the following 3 examples.

Accident in school playground

A student is on one of the swings in the playground at lunch when a chain snaps and causes them to fall off. They land badly on their ankle, which requires them to go to hospital and receive treatment for a fracture. This was caused by poor maintenance of the swing set, and is therefore a reportable incident.

A school playground swing

Accident during an indoor PE lesson

During a PE lesson, one of the students slips on a wet patch on the gym floor and breaks their wrist. The gym was being cleaned just before the PE lesson, so was not given enough time to dry properly. This is an example of poor management of a school activity and so is reportable under RIDDOR.

Accident causing an electric shock during IT class

A computer wire in the IT room is fraying and faulty. The class’s teacher unplugged it and intended to remove it from use, but forgot to do so after another student distracted them. One of the pupils in the IT class notice that their computer isn’t turning on, so they go to plug in the faulty cable. The student receives a serious shock when they do, which requires them to go to hospital. As this was caused by bad management of a hazard in the school, it is therefore a reportable incident.

Accident while students play tennis at lunch

Four students are using the gym to play tennis during their lunch break. One of the pupils run and jump to hit the ball, but misplace their footing and sprain their ankle. They need to go to hospital for an x-ray, but because the injury was not caused by something related to how the school operates it is not reportable under RIDDOR.


What are the Reporting Procedures for Accidents in Schools?

Reporting to RIDDOR is a relatively straightforward process, provided that the responsible person gathers all the necessary information from the incident. They must submit a RIDDOR report via the HSE, whether the accident involved a member of staff or student.

How to Submit a Report

RIDDOR reports must be submitted within 10 days of the incident, though it can be submitted within 15 days if the accident resulted in more than seven days’ absence from work. If the incident is an occupational illness or disease, the report should be submitted as soon as the person receives a diagnosis from their doctor.

Teacher filling out an accident form

The report must include the following where relevant:

  • The date of the recording.
  • The personal details of the individual that the report is about (name, job title, phone number).
  • The details of their company (school name, address, email).
  • The location, date and time of the incident.
  • The personal details of the person(s) involved (name, job title, etc.).
  • A description of the injury, illness, or incident.

To submit a report, the responsible person must fill in the relevant form from the HSE. You can find a list of these forms at the following link:


Recording RIDDOR Incidents

The responsible person should make a note of any incidents that they report to RIDDOR. They should do this in a suitable format, such as in the school’s accident book, and include all the information from the RIDDOR report. If your school has 10 or more employees, it must keep accident records either physically or electronically for at least three years.

Be aware that the National Educational Union’s safety representatives have the authority to inspect your school’s accident book. They will do so to check that you are keeping proper records. It’s therefore crucial to record any RIDDOR incidents, so your school can demonstrate compliance with its recording responsibilities.


Hopefully, you will never have to make a RIDDOR report to the HSE in your school, but accidents can happen. Whether an incident involves a student or staff member, you have a duty to report and record it. You should therefore be fully prepared to comply with RIDDOR requirements and pass on all the necessary information.


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