Are employers obliged to report cases of COVID-19 under RIDDOR?
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have provided clarification that employers, under certain circumstances, have an obligation to report cases of COVID-19 under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
The circumstances in which employers must make a report are however limited to three specific scenarios:
- 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.
- When an employee has been diagnosed as having contracted COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
- An employee dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a fatality.
Cath Swindells, Risk Management Director commented;
“it is vitally important that whilst many employers are focused on navigating their way through this period of uncertainty, they do not lose sight of their duties in relation to health and safety legislation. A failure to comply with timely identification and reporting of any cases of COVID-19 that fall under RIDDOR have the potential to result in criminal liability and fines for the organisation”.
Examples of when you should report:
The HSE have also provided examples and the following useful guidance for each of the three scenarios.
In relation to COVID-19 a Dangerous Occurrence may be the inadvertent release of the virus in a laboratory or similar setting. This might be where an employee has accidently broken a glass vial containing the virus which has led to either possible or actual exposure.
Where someone is exposed to the virus because of their work and is diagnosed with COVID-19, you must report this to the Health and Safety Executive. An example might be a healthcare professional diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients. Unlike the Dangerous Occurrences example, this category of exposure is potentially far wider and could easily include care homes and similar job roles and settings.
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.
You can find further information on this update and reporting templates to assist in the reporting of any cases on the HSE website page here.
If you would like more information on your obligations as an employer, or if you are a client that requires help to access our online Risk Management support platform RMworks, get in touch using the CONTACT option below and a member of our team will be in touch.