Builder jailed for criminal failure to report serious injury

Under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995) there is a legal duty on employers, the self-employed or someone in control of work premises to report and record some work related accidents and injuries.

Failure to report ‘reportable’ accidents is a criminal offence and the responsible person can be sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court with a fine up to £20,000, or in the Crown Court with an unlimited fine. Individuals deemed responsible for non-reporting can also face a period of imprisonment for up to two years.

In a recent Magistrates’ Court case, the worker was clearing a site with an excavator so a new house could be built. The vehicle tipped while digging and it crushed his leg, resulting in amputation.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that the worker had requested a 3-tonne model but a smaller, 1.7-tonne excavator was provided, and he was pressured to use it.  An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the worker had no formal training for operating excavators.The site manager failed to investigate and report the incident to the HSE within 10 days as required under RIDDOR.

The HSE was only able to start an investigation more than 8 months later when the worker complained. By this time crucial evidence relating to the cause of the incident was unobtainable and the work was almost completed.

The judge commented on how distressing it must have been for the worker on top of his life-changing injury, to know the incident was not being investigated.

There was no health and safety related documentation and there was no employers' insurance cover for the worker to claim against. The site manager had not obtained any health and safety related training during his 50 years in the construction industry.

The site manager pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

He was jailed for 24 weeks and ordered to pay costs of £2,033.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector commented that the case reinforced how important it is that incidents are reported so they can be investigated, and improvements made to prevent serious incidents in future.

FSB members have access to a template accident form and guidance on investigating accidents and reporting these to the HSE, where required, on the FSB Legal Hub. 

Are you aware that FSB members can book a call with a solicitor, tax or cyber expert through the FSB website? Log in and click on Legal Hub – then click on Book a call and follow the steps. Here’s the link: