HSE guidance on how organisations should report coronavirus incidents
The Health and Safety executive (HSE) has recently provided guidance of how and when organisations should report coronavirus incidents under the Reporting Requirements under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
The RIDDOR scheme is well known to all organisations who are required to comply with obligations under the health and safety legislation. The new guidance states that that an organisation must only make a report if the following exist:
- An unintended incident at work which led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
- 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
- A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.
Dangerous occurrences relate specifically to something that happens at work in a biological setting where for instance that worker accidentally smashes a glass vial containing coronavirus.
Cases of disease refers primarily to reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work. An example of a work-related exposure could be a healthcare professional who is diagnosed after treating patients with the virus.
Work related fatalities
If someone dies as a result of the work-related exposure to coronavirus then the report must be made as soon as practicable within 10 days of the death. A report must be made online to the HSE as previously undertaken.
The HSC has also published a joint statement between the HSC, the TUC and the CBI this emphasises the need for employers to treat the health and safety of their workers as being paramount. Social distancing therefore is a key public health measure.
Although it is accepted that most employers and organisations are complying with Public Health England guidance, if the HSE discover that some are not then they will consider a range of actions including providing specific advice through to issues of enforcement notices and prohibition notices against those offending organisations.
Finally with so many of us working from home the obligations upon an employer for the health and safety of their workers remains the same. In practical terms an employer should consider the following:
- How will you keep in touch with your employees
- What work activity would I be doing and for how long
- Can it be done safely
- Do you need to put control measures in to protect them.
Your responsibility as an organisation remains for the health and safety of your employees and all the issues in relation to lone working without supervision, working on screen equipment, the stress and mental health of your employee need to be considered. Communication and keeping in touch are paramount at this time of uncertainty and turbulence. We are all in it together and we all need support and the HSE provides useful guidance to meet that aim.
If you need any assistance please contact Anil Rajani.
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.