The HSE have clarified the legal position under RIDDOR.
Employers must make a report when:
- a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This is reported as a case of Disease, e.g.a healthcare professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19.
- an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This is reported as a Dangerous Occurrence, e.g. a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus, leading to people being exposed.
- a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus (confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner).This would be a Work Related Fatality, and reported as a death due to exposure to a biological agent using the ‘case of disease’ report form.
Notifications, as with other RIDDOR reports, may lead to investigation by the HSE and / or Local Authority Environmental Health. Our advice is to ensure the following has occurred and is available for evidence:
Risk Assessments completed and reviewed, relating to coronavirus risk
Training, awareness and advice provided for employees
Regulation 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty for every employer to appoint a Competent Person to assist him/her in undertaking the measures needed to take to comply with safety legislation. The Competent Person must be kept informed of factors known by the employer to affect, or suspected of affecting, the health and safety of any person who may be affected by their undertaking and Regulation 10, the Competent Person has access to the information provided to employees relating to risks to their health and safety. (NB: for many LAW health & safety clients, LAW fulfils the Competent Person role)
These failures during a potential RIDDOR investigation may be considered a statutory offence and may lead to:
Improvement Notice being served
Liability Claims from affected employees where the above potential offence/s would deem to be negligent
LAW are available to support health & safety clients 24/7.