What Classes As An “Accident At Work”?


Your work environment must be safe, secure, and protected. Unfortunately, in reality, people are always at risk of being injured at work. Health and Safety Executive research suggests that are more than one million cases related to ill-health are work-related between 2016 and 2017. Of this figure, 600,000 were fatal injuries, and while it costs billions in terms of money, people have suffered mentally, emotionally, financially for such injuries.

Understanding the definition of work accident

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), self-employed people, employers, and other “Responsible Persons” must report serious work-relate injuries and occupational diseases. Depending on the situation, some near-misses must be reported too.

The definition of an “accident” according to RIDDOR is a “separate, identifiable, unintended incident that causes physical injury. This specifically includes acts of non-consensual violence to people at work”

What you need to understand is the fact that being injured at work is not the accident. The external factor that lead to the injury is the crucial for classifying an injury as an accident. Let’s say that a big box dropped and you were injured. This classifies as an accident, but in case you were lifting the same box many times and have been injured in the process, RIDDOR’s definition doesn’t count it as a work accident.

Also, for the accident to be counted/deemed or termed as “work-related”, it must be a result of work-related activity. Just because you were at the workplace and were injured doesn’t mean that it is a work-related accident. For that classification, the injury must be associated with the work process.

EuroStat also offers a similar definition or explanation of an accident at work, which also considers mental injury.

“A discrete occurrence in the course of work which leads to physical or mental harm. This includes cases of acute poisoning and wilful acts of other persons, as well as accidents occurring during work but off the company’s premises, even though caused by third parties. It excludes deliberate self-inflicted injuries, accidents on the way to and from work, and accidents having only a medical original and occupational diseases.”

Again, as the definition suggests, the accident must occur as a result of the nature of work, and there should be an external factor that caused the accident. Some of the simple examples of workplace injuries would be slips, trips and falls, cuts, lacerations, injuries caused by fire and chemicals, fractures, and electric shock.

Understanding occupational disease

It is important to learn the difference between occupational disease and accidents at work. World Health Organisation notes that occupational diseases are those that are caused by being exposed to certain risk factors during work processes. Other risk factors may be present, but for being classified as an occupational disease, the work-related factors must be present. Musculoskeletal disorders, asthma, skin diseases, or hearing loss are some of the common examples of occupational diseases.

As you move ahead in your career, knowing these definitions are important.

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