construction worker sitting on the ground holding arm following an injury

Managing and reporting an accident when you’re self-employed

Posted on 20th August 2021 by

Unfortunately, workplace accidents are not uncommon. According to the Labour Force Survey, 693,000 workers sustained an injury at work in Britain in 2019/20, and sadly, 142 workers lost their lives as a result of an accident at work in 2020/21.

When you’re self-employed, it’s important that you know how to report a workplace accident properly. In this blog, we explain who is responsible for reporting accidents, how it should be done and why it’s important. We also discuss whether self-employed workers are covered for accidents at work.


How do you report an accident at work?

When a work-related accident occurs, the main priority should be to get the person involved out of immediate danger and to ensure they receive appropriate medical attention for any injuries they’ve suffered. However, after this, it’s important to take stock of what happened. This involves recording the accident in a workplace accident book and reporting the following to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

  • Fatalities that occur as a result of workplace accidents
  • Specified injuries to workers, such as certain types of fractures, amputations, burns and injuries that lead to sight loss or reduction
  • Dangerous occurrences – for example, incidents involving pressure systems, explosions, biological agents and pipeline works
  • Gas incidents, such as a gas leakage or an incomplete combustion of gas


How should employers report an accident?

According to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), employers are legally responsible for reporting work-related fatalities, certain types of work-related injuries and dangerous occurrences that employees are involved in, no matter where they’re working.

Employers can report incidents online by filling out a simple form. Details such as the business name, address, email and phone number will be required, along with the location, date and time of the accident. You’ll also need to supply the details of the injured person, including their name, job title and a description of the incident.

If a fatality occurs, you can telephone the Incident Contact Centre on 0345 300 9923 between the hours of 8.30am and 5pm during weekdays.

If an offshore incident takes place, you should report it to the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR)  by filling out an online form.


How should freelancers report an accident?

If you are a freelancer and you sustain a specified injury or an injury that causes you to be unable to carry out your duties for over seven consecutive days, the incident must be reported. The day of the accident itself is not counted in the seven days but weekends and rest days should be included. It is the person in charge of the premises you were working in that is responsible for making the report. They should do this within 15 days of the incident. As above, they can file a report by filling out an online form. You should check with the responsible person that a report has been submitted as this could help you if you need to make a Personal Accident Insurance claim.

If you have an accident while working in your own premises or a domestic premises, the responsibility is on you as a self-employed worker to make a report. Again, you can do this by filling out the same online form that an employer would use.

If you are in charge of a premises as a freelancer, it’s also up to you to report any work-related deaths, as well as injuries to any members of the public that occur on your premises. You must also report near-miss incidents that take place on the premises. For example, lifting equipment collapsing, equipment hitting power lines or fires that halt work for over 24 hours.


Why is it important to report accidents in the workplace?

Reporting workplace accidents isn’t optional. If you’re an employer or a self-employed worker in charge of a premises, it’s your civic duty to report certain work-related injuries, fatalities and near misses. If you do not report relevant workplace incidents, you’re failing to comply with RIDDOR. This could lead to a fine of up to £20,000.

Reporting an accident is important as it provides the enforcing authorities for occupational health and safety – the HSE and local authorities – with information that can help them to better manage risks. The details you provide in your report allows them to find out what kind of incidents are occurring and where. This enables them to investigate incidents, identify risks and develop solutions to reduce risks.

The HSE and local authorities also use workplace accident report data to inform the work they do and the type of advice they provide. For example, if they see a pattern of incidents in a certain industry, they may target that sector with updated health and safety guidance.

As an employer or a self-employed person in charge of a premises, it is  your responsibility to record work-related injuries and incidents in an accident book. Recording accidents in this way not only ensures legal compliance, it also allows you to investigate incidents properly, identify areas for development, improve your risk assessments and come up with solutions to minimise and better manage risks.


Are the self-employed covered for accidents?

Employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as long as they earn a minimum of £120 per week and have been unable to work due to an illness or injury for four consecutive days. Employees also may receive company benefits while they’re off work due to illness or injury.

For the self-employed, however, no such safety net exists. This is why it’s important that you have the right insurance cover in place if you’re a freelancer or contractor.

Whether or not you’ll be covered for workplace accidents depends on the type of insurance policies you have. If you have Personal Accident and Sickness Insurance, for example, you can expect to be covered for your loss of earnings while you’re unable to work due to a work-related accident. It would also cover you for illnesses caused by work.

Public Liability Insurance is also worth having in place as a freelancer,  although it won’t cover your loss of earnings if you become injured, it will cover the cost of a public liability claim should a member of the public sustain an injury in the course of your business activities.


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