One of the many questions that has arisen relates to reporting requirements for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This article sets out some of the key HSE requirements and provides practical examples of how these may apply.
The HSE states that an unintended incident at work which has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to COVID-19 must be reported as a dangerous occurrence. The question however is the exact definition of ‘dangerous occurrence’ which the HSE does not provide.
Below are examples of what we would consider to be and to not be reportable occurrences:
If a vial containing COVID-19 is broken in a laboratory exposing unprotected persons to the disease this is reportable under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).
On the other hand, if a person known to have COVID-19 spits at a worker, or other person, in the workplace who is unprotected this may be reportable under RIDDOR.
Dangerous occurrences must be reported to the HSE without delay and within 10 days.
Reporting of a disease
The HSE states a worker who has been diagnosed as having COVID-19, and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work, must be reported as a case of disease.
Practical examples of this requirement could include:
A nurse or doctor contracts COVID-19 working with patients who are known to have or thought to have COVID-19. The patients are the most likely source and the event is reportable under RIDDOR.
A laboratory worker or housekeeper in a care home contracts COVID-19 working with contaminated items or samples. The contaminated items or samples are the most likely source and the event is reportable under RIDDOR.
The below situations are unlikely to be reportable because there is no reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work:
An admin worker, working from home for the last four weeks contracts COVID-19 from a family member because social distancing was difficult to achieve is not reportable under RIDDOR.
An admin worker that has be furloughed for the last four weeks contracts COVID-19 but not whilst at work is not reportable under RIDDOR.
A bus driver / teacher contracts COVID-19 but doesn’t work with colleagues/customers/students that are known to have or are thought to have COVID-19 is not reportable under RIDDOR.
Diseases must be reported upon becoming aware of diagnosis.
Reporting a death
The HSE states a worker who dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus must be reported as a death. Therefore, a doctor or nurse who dies as a result of COVID-19 that was contracted at work would be reportable under RIDDOR but a worker who dies as a result of contracting COVID-19, but the disease wasn’t thought to have been contracted at work, is not reportable under RIDDOR.