The HSE has published further information today on when employers should report coronavirus incidents under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), as well as other health and safety guidance and advice on COVID-19.
The issue of RIDDOR is a tricky one. The HSE is trying to clarify the situation but whether to report or not remains a judgement call for employers.
We believe that in most cases, our clients’ work would not generally cause them to need to report a case of Covid-19 under RIDDOR unless they have a workplace which is clearly NOT Covid-19 compliant.
It might help to see this with the following in mind:
RIDDOR is all about collecting data on work related accidents, illnesses and dangerous occurrences
RIDDOR applies to all workplaces and that includes hospitals (The NHS is the UK’s largest employer), laboratories and care homes.
The HSE’s guidance says that employers would need reasonable cause to believe that a person diagnosed with Covid-19 caught the disease because of their work – specifically: “it should be more likely than not that the person’s work was the source of exposure to coronavirus as opposed to general societal exposure. Such cases may not be easy to identify when COVID-19 is prevalent in the general population.”
It is also worth noting that as the virus is so new, it is not known how multiple exposures in different environments (e.g. at home, in the office, in the supermarket on the same day) actually work in terms of transmitting the viral load.
It seems as if the most likely scenario in which a report under RIDDOR may be needed is in the event of an outbreak – a number of cases related to a single place of work. From what we have seen so far, the response from Public Health England to employers who are proactively informing of an outbreak, is specific, helpful and constructive, but does not mention RIDDOR. The HSE does not mention outbreaks yet, so perhaps there is still more guidance to come.
To see the HSE’s guidance, please follow this link: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/riddor/index.htm#what