Reporting of Accidents to Pupils in School

Graze on arm

 Accidents to pupils in school should always be logged in the school accident or first aid book, but some accidents need to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

The vast majority of accidents which occur in schools do not need to be reported, but it is important for staff in school to know when an accident does need to be referred to the HSE.

The first thing to note is that the rules for reporting are different for staff and pupils. Students and pupils in school are not at work, so for the purposes of RIDDOR they are treated as members of the public. This means that the regulations for reporting of accidents are significantly different from those for staff. The only exception to this is if the pupil or student is on a recognised training scheme or work experience. In this article I will consider only the regulations regarding pupils.

There are no specific RIDDOR regulations for schools and schools are treated as workplaces. When considering whether an accident is reportable or not, you only need to consider reporting where an accident results in a pupil’s death or they are taken from the scene of the accident to hospital.

Note that if the pupil is taken to hospital as a precaution, say just for observation, and the medical advice is that no injury is sustained then there is no need to report it. If a pupil is injured but stays in school or goes home, again there is no need to report it. Also, injuries only have to be reported if they arise out of or are in connection with the work of the school. For example, if a pupil breaks his arm due to a defective chair collapsing and is taken to hospital, this would need to be reported under the regulations. An incident in which a pupil is taken to hospital due to an asthma attack, however, would not need to be reported as this does not arise from the normal working of the school. When deciding whether or not an accident arises from the working of the school it is useful to consider whether there has been:

  • a failure of the way the activity was organised. For example was the supervision adequate?
  • a failure of equipment. For example poorly maintained PE or science equipment.
  • a defect in the condition of the premises. For example a slippery floor.

Most accidents to pupils in PE lessons are not RIDDOR reportable unless: either the pupil is killed or is taken directly to hospital from the scene to be treated for an injury, or the accident is as a result of faulty equipment or improper supervision rather than the normal risk associated with the activity. For example injuries sustained by a pupil tripping over his own bootlaces would not be reportable, but a slip due to using the wrong wax on a gym floor would be.

Again, most accidents of this type are not RIDDOR reportable if they arise from the normal rough and tumble of participation in the sport. Thus an injury sustained in football or rugby tackle would not need to be reported. The essential test is to consider whether the accident was due to the condition, design or maintenance of the equipment or improper supervision or organisation; if so, then it would need to be reported.

Most accidents which are due to slips, trips, falls or collisions in the playground would not need to be reported. However, the accident would be reportable if it was as a result of

  • defective play equipment or
  • degraded or uneven playground surface or
  • inadequate supervision or
  • a risk or hazard previously identified but not corrected.

Injury sustained in a fight between pupils is not a reportable matter since it does not arise from the normal working of the school.

If the pupil is on an approved work placement or training scheme they are deemed to be employees of the company. In this case it is the responsibility of the employer (workplace provider) to report the accident.

Death or injury resulting from road traffic accidents, for example, do not have to be reported. If pupils are injured in a collision involving the school bus travelling on the public highway, this does not need to be reported. Such incidents would be investigated and dealt with by the police.

Find out more at the HSE website