The HSE has issued further detailed guidance for employers struggling to determine whether confirmed Covid-19 cases within the workforce are reportable under RIDDOR. This latest attempt to clarify the position comes after questions were raised as to how employers, already under pressure from the effects of the pandemic, should interpret the legal reporting requirements.
Who must make the report?
RIDDOR requires “Responsible Persons” to report certain matters to the HSE. Typically employers, the self-employed and others in charge of a workplace will fall into this definition depending on the circumstances.
What must be reported?
The HSE has identified three Covid-19 specific circumstances in which a Responsible Person should make a report:-
• an accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence;
• a worker has been diagnosed with Covid-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease;
• a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent.
How does an employer determine when a report must be made?
The new detail added by the HSE has helpfully (and finally) given some clarity.
Most difficulty appears to have arisen in determining when a case of occupational exposure to the virus has happened. We now know that when deciding whether to report this as a case of disease:-
• a report is only required where it is more likely than not that the work was the source of exposure (rather than general societal exposure);
• a judgment is to be made on available information; there is no need for detailed investigation;
• certain general principles can be used to help make that decision:-
o Did the work being done increase the risk of exposure to covid-19?
o Was there a specific incident that increased the risk of exposure?
o Did the work bring the person directly into contact with a known Covid-19 hazard without effective control measures in place?
• has a medical professional highlighted the significance of work-related factors when communicating a diagnosis?
Interestingly, the HSE has determined that work with the general public, as opposed to work with persons known to be infected, is not considered sufficient evidence to indicate that a Covid-19 diagnosis is likely to be attributable to occupational exposure and such cases do not require a report. This significantly restricts the number of employers impacted by these expanded reporting requirements.
How are reports made?
Reports can be made online by following the instructions at: https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/report.htm.
You can also report over the telephone by calling the Incident Contact Centre on 0345 300 9923.
Where can more information be found?
The guidance is available in full on the HSE website. It can be found at:-
If you need any assistance in understanding how the guidance applies to your organisation, please get in touch with our Regulatory team.