The HSE have released a statement relating to reporting cases of COVID-19 under RIDDOR. Find more information below along with our commentary regarding how this will impact businesses.
“You must only make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when:
an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus”
Examples given by the HSE
“If something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of coronavirus you must report this as a dangerous occurrence. An example of a dangerous occurrence would be a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus, leading to people being exposed.”
Comment: Unless you are involved in work directly with the pathogen or biological samples that may contain the pathogen then you are unlikely to experience a dangerous occurrence as detailed in RIDDOR Regulation 7, schedule 2 – section 10.
Cases of Disease: exposure to biological agents
“If there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work, you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report. An example of a work-related exposure to coronavirus would be a health care professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19.”
Comment: In the example given by the HSE there is a high likelihood of being exposed to the disease due to the nature of work undertaken and therefore should be reported. HSE guidance given on infections states that “infections that could have been acquired as easily in the community as in work are not reportable, unless the infection was definitely acquired at work”. Given the current situation with community infections of COVID-19 it is unlikely that an infection would be more readily acquired in a workplace unless you are working in healthcare or a laboratory directly working with patients suffering from COVID-19 or biological samples containing the pathogen.
Work related fatalities
“If someone dies as a result of a work-related exposure to coronavirus and this is confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner then you must report this as soon as is practical and within 10 days of the death.”
Comment: It is unlikely that you would need to report a death from coronavirus unless the circumstances meet the criteria as outlined in previous comments.
If you need further clarity on this matter, please contact Alcumus PSM. Our Health and Safety Consultants are available for health and safety advice or to discuss any concerns you may have. Contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01484 439930.
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by Steve Ross, Senior Health and Safety Consultant