The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a new accident book that confirms safety representatives must have access to information on injuries that happen in the workplace regardless of GDPR.
Earlier this year I wrote a blog that highlighted attempts by employers to use the new GDPR requirements to stop trade union health and safety representatives from getting access to information from accident books. It made it clear that GDPR was just being used by employers as an excuse, and that the new regulations did not make any difference to the employers’ duties to provide the information that they are required to give union representatives under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations.
Well, this week the publishers of the HSE Accident Book, the TSO, have published a new 2018 version of the accident book, which it emphasises is GDPR-compliant. What it says reinforces the need to ensure that health and safety representatives are given information on any accidents that occur in the workplace.
The introduction to the book makes it clear that:
Employers must disclose the personal information and details of the accident to safety representatives and/or representatives of employee safety, if the person ticks the tick box and signs. If the injured person does not consent to the disclosure of this personal information, you must anonymise the information before disclosing it to safety representatives and/or representatives of employee safety.
The arrangements to pass on this information should be discussed between employers, employees and/or their representatives. The aim should be to make the best use of this (and other information) to meet health and safety objectives.
This shows that there is no doubt that union health and safety representatives are entitled to details of any accidents recorded in the accident book, and that employees should be asked to consent to the information being passed on (although they have the right to ask that their personal information is not revealed).
But there is a problem. A lot of employers do not use the HSE accident book. They use their own version or a generic one. If you search for “accident book” on Google, you will find a lot of alternative versions, all a lot cheaper that the HSE/TSO one. However, most of them do not have a tick box to ask the injured employee to consent to the information being given to the safety representative. That means that an employer can refuse to give the information, although even then they must give information in an anonymised form.
So don’t let your employer claim that GDPR stops you getting the information they need. The first thing you should do after reading this blog is check your accident book and make sure that, whoever has published it, there is a tick box asking for consent to give the information to safety representatives.