Workplace Accident Meaning & Definition | EcoOnline
Health & Safety Glossary

Workplace Accident

A workplace accident is an unplanned event causing injury, damage, or disruption during work activities.


Reduce Workplace Accidents to Create a Safer Work Environment

Learn how to actively drive a more mature safety culture with our FREE whitepaper.



What is a Workplace Accident?

A workplace accident, also commonly known as an occupational accident, is an unforeseen event in the workplace that results in an injury, or a casualty, to an employee. 

It's described as a discrete event that occurs in the normal course of business, and can include events that occur on the company's premises, or off it.

A workplace accident can result in physical or mental harm (or both), including any injury, disease, or even death. 

Common incidents that can be regarded as workplace accidents include attacks by humans or even animals, any cases of acute poisoning, slips or falls on staircases or pavements, and accidents caused while on board any means of transportation.


Reduce Workplace Risks and Hazards

Learn how to actively drive a more mature safety culture with our FREE  17 page guide discussing how reporting incidents, close calls and observations can help transform your safety culture.



Why is it Important to Record and Report a Workplace Accident?

Recording a workplace accident is very important, due to both legal and moral reasons. RIDDOR makes it necessary for organizations to record and report accidents, especially when:

  • there's an accident that results in an injury
  • The accident was related to work
  • It is a specified, reportable injury

It is an employer's responsibility to report any serious work-related accidents, spread of disease, or any dangerous incidents. They are required to report:

  • death
  • any major injuries
  • any dangerous incidents like scaffolding collapses or gas leaks
  • any injury that prevents employees from doing their work properly for more than three days
  • any spread of disease

It's important to record and report workplace accidents for several reasons, apart from legal requirements. 


Risk Assessments

Companies can conduct a thorough risk assessment after a new accident to determine what went wrong. If any of the safety measures or protocols failed, it's important to understand why. 

Companies often record workplace accidents and then conduct an investigation to determine what went wrong.

If multiple incidents take place around similar circumstances, it's a clear indication that the company's proposed safety measures and risk management policies aren't effective. 

Improve Employee Safety

It is the employer's responsibility to make sure that the workplace is safe and secure for the employees. It's imperative for companies to take steps to improve employee safety, and the best way to do that is by recording an incident, investigating it thoroughly, and proposing measures to ensure that it doesn't repeat. 

Maintaining an Accident Book

If an organization or a company has more than 10 employees, they need to maintain an accident book. All workplace accidents must be recorded in the accident book, as it's an important requirement.

Smaller organizations might also consider keeping an accident book, so it's worth asking the manager if they have one. 

Reduced Litigation, Fines, and Penalties

An important reason why companies should record and report workplace accidents is because it helps reduce the chances of litigation, penalties, or fines. Employees can file for compensation or the company might be exposed to a lawsuit if they don't provide a safe environment for employees. 


The Difference Between Workplace Accidents and Incidents

It's also important to understand the difference between a workplace accident and an incident. An incident can either be a near miss or a dangerous occurrence, which must be reported under RIDDOR in under 10 days. 

Think of an incident as an accident that's waiting to happen. That's why incidents must be investigated and reported, to ensure that they don't repeat. 

Workplace incidents don't always result in injury; but they do provide important details that investigators can use to determine what led to the incident in the first place. 

A workplace accident, as mentioned above, results in an injury or a fatality. It must be reported to the employer and they have the responsibility to further report them to the local authorities. 

The organization must produce a report that specifies what led to the event, including making sure that employees and employers were abiding by the codes of practice and essential regulations. 

It's also important to identify any new potential health and safety risks and take action accordingly. 


Common Types of Workplace Accidents

There are some common types of workplace accidents, as described below:

  • Overexertion: This is arguably one of the most common types of workplace accidents. These accidents occur due to overexertion that often result in injuries, including strains or sprains. 
  • Slips or trips: Another common kind of workplace accident is when a person slips or falls, often resulting in a serious injury. Slips and falls are caused due to improper signage or in some cases, due to negligence. 
  • Falling objects: There's also a risk of employees sustaining injuries when something falls on them. If items are not properly secured on the shelves, it could result in injury. It's important to take steps and make sure that such accidents don't occur. 
  • Falls: A fall could occur when there's a safety railing or any kind of protection near an edge. It's important to ensure that employees receive proper safety training and know how to avoid accidents from falling. 

Reduce Workplace Risks and Hazards

Learn how to actively drive a more mature safety culture with our FREE  17 page guide discussing how reporting incidents, close calls and observations can help transform your safety culture.


Record and Investigate Workplace Accidents with EcoOnline's Health & Safety Software

EcoOnline's Health & Safety Software makes it easy for companies to easily record and investigate workplace accidents. It is a highly modular software program that allows companies to manage and report incidents, assess risk, track events, and even conduct a comprehensive root cause analysis. It's an excellent choice for companies that want to improve workplace safety.