As many businesses now begin to return to some form of operation one of the many issues that has arisen relates to reporting requirements for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE states a dangerous occurrence happens when an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to COVID-19 and this must be reported to the HSE without delay and within 10 days. The HSE does not provide an exact definition of “dangerous occurrence”, but here are some examples that we would consider to be and to not be reportable occurrences:
- If a vial containing COVID-19 is broken in a laboratory exposing unprotected persons to the disease this is reportable under RIDDOR.
- If a person known to have COVID-19 spits at a worker, or other person, in the workplace who is unprotected this may be reportable under RIDDOR.
Reporting of a disease
The HSE states a worker who has been diagnosed as having COVID-19, and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work, must be reported as a case of disease.Diseases must be reported upon becoming aware of diagnosis.
Practical examples of this requirement could include:
- A nurse or doctor contracts COVID-19 working with patients who are known to have or thought to have COVID-19. The patients are the most likely source and the event is reportable under RIDDOR.
- A laboratory worker or housekeeper in a care home contracts COVID-19 working with contaminated items or samples. The contaminated items or samples are the most likely source and the event is reportable under RIDDOR.
The below examples are unlikely to be reportable because there is no reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work:
- An admin worker, working from home for the last four weeks contracts COVID-19 from a family member because social distancing was difficult to achieve is not reportable under RIDDOR.
- An admin worker that has been furloughed for the last four weeks contracts COVID-19 but not whilst at work is not reportable under RIDDOR.
- A bus driver or teacher contracts COVID-19 but doesn’t work with colleagues, customers or students that are known to have or are thought to have COVID-19 is not reportable under RIDDOR.
Reporting a death
The HSE states a worker who dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus must be reported as a death, and this must be reported to the HSE without delay and within 10 days. Therefore, a doctor or nurse who dies as a result of COVID-19 that was contracted at work would be reportable under RIDDOR but a worker who dies as a result of contracting COVID-19, but the disease wasn’t thought to have been contracted at work, is not reportable under RIDDOR. In these challenging times it is important that you understand the above HSE issues surrounding Covid-19. If you wish to discuss any of this further our Lycetts Risk Management team can be emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org