Last reviewed 12 March 2019

The number of health and safety queries to our helplines increased this month, with calls querying accidents, fire, electricity and occupational health. Do you know the difference between an accident and an incident? Or the three general types of maintenance for your electrical appliances? For advice on these or any other health and safety issue, speak with a qualified consultant on 0844 561 8149.

1. Accidents (NEW)

There is some confusion around the terms “accident” and “incident” in the realm of health and safety. The main difference is that “accident” results in personal injury, while an “incident” does not result in personal injury but may effect some property damage.

An accident is a specific event that results in the injury, death or ill health of an employee or a member of the public.

You can categorise an incident under two subcategories:

  • as a near miss, which is an internal recordable incident and should be investigated and recorded

  • as a dangerous occurrence, which is reportable under RIDDOR and should be reported within 10 days.

A “near miss” is an event that doesn’t result in harm but had the potential to cause it.

A “dangerous occurrence” is a set of circumstances (rather than a specific event) that could potentially cause injury or ill health and meets the required criteria for reporting under RIDDOR.

What causes accidents, and how do you prevent, investigate and report them? There’s a wealth of information and advice in your Croner-i Accidents and First Aid section, such as the Accidents — Causes and Prevention topic.

2. Fire (NEW)

Modern fire safety legislation applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space. It does not apply to people’s private homes, including individual flats in a block or house, but does apply to common areas of blocks of flats. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) is at the heart of fire safety in the workplace in England and Wales. In Scotland, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 make similar requirements, as do the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 in Northern Ireland.

Need advice on fire safety management? Advice on fire risk assessments and emergency procedures? See your Croner-i Fire section, topics Fire Risk Assessment and Fire Emergency Procedures and Means of Escape, for instance.

3. Legislation (down 2)

A vast amount of legislation dictates how employers should handle situations to ensure the safety of staff. Under s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974, you are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of your employees.

One specific duty employers must comply with is for staff working with display screen equipment (DSE). British law states there must be a risk assessment of equipment with display screens to ensure they’re not negatively affecting the health of your staff.

Complying with the regulation can also have benefits for your business. Effective management contributes to a productive workforce by ensuring employee wellbeing.

4. Electricity (NEW)

Where electrical appliances are used, regular maintenance is essential. There are three general types of maintenance.

  • Planned preventive maintenance. This ensures that the equipment is maintained on a regular, periodic basis. It generally follows the prescribed maintenance period specified by the manufacturer in its maintenance schedules.

  • Condition-based maintenance. This requires that components of the equipment are examined on a regular basis and replaced when a pre-specified amount of wear or deterioration is observed.

  • Breakdown maintenance. This means attention is given to the equipment only when it ceases to function. This sort of maintenance is not suitable for safety-critical components and should be followed only if the failure of any component will not pose an immediate risk to personnel.

See your Electrical Safety and Electrical Inspection and Testing topics.

5. Occupational health (NEW)

Proactive occupational health management promotes the physical, mental and social wellbeing of workers in all occupations by controlling risks and ensuring a good fit between people and their jobs.

To aid occupational health and provide a useful benefit for employees, many employers look to implement an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

EAPs are employee benefit programmes offered by many leading employers. They help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance and health and wellbeing. EAPs generally include assessments, short-term counselling and referral services for employees and their immediate family.


To discuss employee assistance programmes, or for any other health and safety advice, please call a qualified health and safety consultant on 0844 561 8149.