The Importance Of Expert Witnesses Following RIDDOR Reportable Incidents

RIDDOR Reportable Incidents

As specialists in expert witness reports, we are often asked to assist with legal cases relating to Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). In this article, we will explain the legal requirements of RIDDOR and how expert witnesses can play a key role in assisting with RIDDOR-related legal cases.

What is RIDDOR?

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) places a legal duty on all employers, those who are self-employed, and individuals responsible for work premises to report to HSE certain health and safety events (called reportable incidents), including:

  • The death of any person (including workers and non-workers)
  • Serious injuries to workers
  • Occupational diseases
  • Dangerous occurrences (also referred to as near misses), and
  • Gas incidents

Serious workplace accidents

Serious workplace accidents in the workplace that should be reported via RIDDOR typically include injuries of the following type:

  • Fractures (other than to fingers, thumbs and toes)
  • Amputations
  • Injuries that cause permanent loss of sight or reduction in sight
  • Crush injuries to the head or torso that damage the brain or internal organs
  • Serious burns covering more than 10% of the body or cause significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs
  • Scalping
  • Loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia

Whether an incident needs to be reported via RIDDOR also depends on how long the individual is incapacitated. Where a person is incapacitated for over seven days, this must be reported within 15 days.

Occupational diseases

Occupational diseases that must be reported via RIDDOR may include occupational cancers, carpal tunnel syndrome, occupational dermatitis, hand-arm vibration syndrome, tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm, or disease connected to exposure to a biological agent.

Dangerous occurrences (near misses)

Dangerous occurrences are serious events that could have caused serious injury (i.e. near misses). These must be reported because even though no injury (or a minor injury) resulted, there may have been a failure of the employer to take reasonable action to prevent the incident that could have had serious consequences. There are 27 specified dangerous occurrences that must be reported to HSE via RIDDOR, including:

  • The collapse, overturning or failure of any load-bearing part of any lifting equipment other than an accessory for lifting.
  • Plant or equipment unintentionally coming into contact with overhead power lines
  • Any explosion or fire caused by an electrical short circuit or overload
  • The malfunction of breathing apparatus which causes a significant risk of personal injury to the user, and
  • The accidental release of any substance which could cause injury to any person.

There a several general dangerous occurrence types in addition to those relating to mines, quarries, offshore workplaces and transport systems.

Gas incidents

RIDDOR requires that distributors, fillers, importers & suppliers of flammable gas report any incident resulting in death, loss of consciousness, or being hospitalised due to a gas-related injury (e.g. exposure, burns)

How do expert witnesses play a role in RIDDOR cases?

Expert witnesses can play a key role in all legal cases involving RIDDOR reportable incidents. Such cases may include:

  • Where an employer has reported a health and safety incident under RIDDOR (i.e. a RIDDOR reportable incident), and an expert opinion is required regarding the circumstances of the incident and/or exposure
  • Expert medical opinion is needed to assess the future treatment and care needs of a person injured in a RIDDOR reportable incident, and the costs of such care
  • Providing an expert opinion where an employer fails to report an incident via RIDDOR, and
  • Assessing whether an employer put in place reasonable measures and mitigations to prevent a RIDDOR reportable incident.
  • Assessing the seriousness of the harm risked by an employer relating to a RIDDOR reportable incident and the extent of any culpability in the context of the sentencing guidelines
  • Assessing whether an employer has the necessary processes and procedures to carry out risk assessments and occupational disease surveillance/

The importance of gathering robust supporting evidence in any RIDDOR-related legal case cannot be overstated. In addition to gathering and reviewing all of the relevant documents and items of evidence, expert witnesses may carry out an onsite investigation to gather their own evidence (e.g. photos, measures, check records, and observe working practices) to form a compelling expert opinion. Such opinion can be highly persuasive in HSE cases, especially when compared to witness statements which can be unreliable and often overstated.

Final words

Depending on the circumstances of the workplace incident or disease, engaging the services of an expert witness specialising in RIDDOR reportable incidents may be essential in avoiding serious criminal prosecution.

How can Expert Court Reports Ltd help?

At Expert Court Reports, we have several experts on our panel including David Wenham our occupational health and safety expert witness who can provide highly persuasive expert opinion in legal cases following a RIDDOR reportable incident.

How can Expert Court Reports Ltd help?

At Expert Court Reports, we have several chronic pain and acute and general medicine expert witnesses who can provide evidence in cases.

Expert Court Reports provides expert witnesses and medicolegal court reports for solicitors, barristers and other agencies, including the police, probation services, prisons, and third-sector organisations, as well as private clients. To discuss any issues raised in this article, please call us on 01865 587865email, or request a call by completing our online form.