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RIDDOR and COVID-19 - reporting of a dangerous occurrence

Risk & Analytics|Health and Benefits
COVID 19 Coronavirus

May 27, 2020

The UK’s experience with COVID-19 has brought businesses into uncharted waters.

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.

Dangerous occurrences

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. 1

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.
  • 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.2

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.

Deaths must be reported to the HSE without delay and within 10 days.

Conclusion

Organisations must make sure that they understand:

  • What is reportable under RIDDOR with regard to COVID-19 i.e. dangerous occurrences, diseases and deaths.
  • When it is necessary for organisation to make a report under RIDDOR considering the specific requirements. This refers to the circumstances and the examples provided.
  • Make any required reports within the time limits defined in the regulations3

For further information please contact your Willis Towers Watson representative.

Disclaimer

Each applicable policy of insurance must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for COVID-19. Coverage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For global client programs it is critical to consider all local operations and how policies may or may not include COVID-19 coverage.

The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal and/or other professional advisors. Some of the information in this publication may be compiled by third party sources we consider to be reliable, however we do not guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of such information. We assume no duty in contract, tort, or otherwise in connection with this publication and expressly disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any liability in connection with this publication. Willis Towers Watson offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed entities in each jurisdiction in which it operates.

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and changes are occurring frequently. The information given in this publication is believed to be accurate at the date of publication shown at the top of this document. This information may have subsequently changed or have been superseded and should not be relied upon to be accurate or suitable after this date.

Footnotes

https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/riddor-reporting-coronavirus.htm
https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/when-do-i-report.htm
https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm

Contact

Dip NEBOSH, CMIOSH, Health & Safety Practice

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