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The Legal Column - Dec 11

23 December 2011

The experts at Workplace Law address your legislative and compliance issues.

Accident at work – RIDDOR reporting
Q: An employee who fell at work was kept in hospital for four days, which we reported to RIDDOR as a back injury. Following a four-week review we received a doctor’s certificate stating he had a fracture to his back. Do we need to report the fracture via RIDDOR?

A: If you have already reported the incident under RIDDOR as an over-three-day injury subject to Regulation 3(2) of RIDDOR, with the change in diagnosis, and now involving a fracture, the injury is now considered a major injury subject to Regulation 3(1), so in this case I believe an update is necessary.

You can submit a duplicate form online, providing the name of the original notifier, the incident reference number, the injured person’s name and the date of the incident, and the reference number for your original notification.
You should put the original reference number in the free text field where you are asked to ‘describe what happened’. You should begin this box by writing ‘Amendment to Incident Reference Number XXXXXXXXXX’ followed by the description of the incident. 

Covert CCTV surveillance

Q: There have been a number of petty thefts from a shared fridge in a communal kitchen, which, while not serious, is causing annoyance amongst staff. We would like to install a covert CCTV camera, but want to check we will not be breaking the law by installing a covert camera for this purpose.

A: When you install CCTV you must follow guidelines to ensure that you comply with the Data Protection Act. This includes ensuring that access to recordings are restricted to authorised persons, viewing of recordings take place in a restricted area in private conditions, all persons with access to images should be aware of procedures when accessing recordings, and all operators should be trained in their responsibilities. For more information consult the CCTV Code of Practice.

Office lighting

Q: We have recently been monitoring our light levels and have been working to a parameter of between 300 and 500 lux for open plan office space. These areas are used for computer workstations. The readings we have taken are consistent within this range; however, we have been asked by some individuals to remove lamps from fittings.

We have monitored the levels and recorded them at around the 200 lux mark, which we believe is too low for best practice, and will affect not only the user but others in the area.

Could you advise us on best practice and whether the range we are working to is correct?

A: Luminance needed depends on how much detail needs to be seen, the age of the worker, and the speed and accuracy by which the task needs to be performed. The HSE guidance HSG 38 recommends for offices with limited perception of detail an average level of 200 lux (with minimum readings of 100 lux). However, if there is requirement of perception to detail, such as reading, the average level required increases to 500 lux (with minimum readings of 200 lux).

The CIBSE Code on Lighting recommends the following lighting levels for various workplaces:
 Offices for filing, copying or reception desks: 300 lux.
 Conference and meeting rooms: 500 lux.
 Offices used for writing, typing and reading: 500 lux.

As you can see from the information above you are working at the right levels; however, you must now investigate why some individuals have requested that you remove some lamps, as this may be because of glare or that the light is not uniform in the workplace. Finally, where possible try to improve natural lighting.

Further information
Workplace Law specialises in the provision of employment law, health and safety and environmental management support in the FM sector. If you have a question that you would like addressed in this column please email it to the editor at

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