With uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently produced guidance on what needs to be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013.
Full information can be found here. The guidance states that the following needs to be reported:
This is an unintended incident at work resulting in a release of Coronavirus that has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to Coronavirus. The HSE give the example of a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing Coronavirus.
This is clearly targeting hospitals and laboratories handling Coronavirus and will NOT therefore be relevant to the majority of organisations.
Case of Disease
This needs to be reported when a worker has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. The example the HSE provides is a health care professional who is diagnosed with Covid-19 after treating patients with Covid-19.
What we draw your attention to here is that there are two factors in the statement that organisations need to consider before reporting under RIDDOR.
- Firstly, what is meant by ‘diagnosed’?
If we look at Section 2 of RIDDOR (‘Interpretations’), diagnosis requires a registered medical practitioner's identification of the disease in writing, where it pertains to an employee. With the current lack of testing, and with this definition in mind, organisations will not be required to report suspected cases.
- The second difficulty is in providing ‘reasonable evidence’ that the infection was caused by exposure at work and not from another source such as whilst commuting, from customers or from family members. Organisations will have to look at this on a case-by-case basis once the formal diagnosis has been made.
Finally, 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 a death due to exposure to a biological agent using the ‘Case of Disease’ report form.
You must report workplace fatalities to HSE by the quickest practicable means without delay and send a report of that fatality within 10 days of the incident.
If you have further questions on RIDDOR requirements, please contact our Risk Management Executive, Eliot Clarke – firstname.lastname@example.org