Health & Safety

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COVID-19 | Protecting your business

COVID-19 now reportable under RIDDOR

RIDDOR

HSE have changed their stance on the requirement to report COVID-19 cases under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). Cases are now reportable where:

  • An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to COVID-19. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence , or
  • 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.

Unfortunately this creates ambiguity for businesses in the current climate, particularly given the ever growing number of suspected or ‘actual’ cases of COVID-19. HSE’s example of a work-related exposure to COVID-19 is a health care professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients who had the condition. However, when the guidance is transposed into a non-healthcare setting, this is then open to wide interpretation. For example, what actually constitutes a diagnosis and how will this develop as testing ‘ramps up’?

An even bigger question for employers to grapple with is determining whether there is reasonable evidence that it was ‘caused by’ exposure at work - given the multitude of situations via which people can be exposed.

There is probably little doubt that essential workers are at increased risk by virtue of the fact that they are asked to continue working whilst others self-isolate and/or work from home. Equally though they may have been infected by an asymptomatic family member or from a trip to the supermarket.

Organisations most likely to be impacted by this change are obviously the NHS and other health/care providers, and organisations who are supporting those functions e.g. cleaning services, deliveries and security services. However, there is also a wide variety of sectors where continued operation is deemed critical to the COVID-19 response. It is perhaps counter-intuitive that they now need to spend time interpreting this guidance rather than focusing on pro-active safety measures to keep their front-line staff safe.

Lockton hope that further guidance is provided to establish exactly what needs to be reported to reduce the potential burden on employers, particularly those with key/essential workers who will have to grapple with ‘what to report’ amidst a huge array of other pressures.

In the meantime, we advise that liability insurers are notified of any RIDDOR reports for COVID-19 in the same manner as other RIDDOR incidents.

For more details click here