HSE – HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE
Guidance is for the person reporting, usually the employer (known as the ‘responsible person’). You should follow the RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19 guidance on what to report before using this detailed guidance.
HSE accepts that these are not easy criteria to apply in the unusual circumstances presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
This guidance, from HSE, gives further detail to help you determine if you need to make a report and provides some principles to use when assessing the information available and making your judgement. It has been developed to assist responsible persons in determining whether reports need to be made.
Members of the public and non-work-related cases
There is no requirement under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) to report incidents of disease or deaths of members of the public, patients, care home residents or service users from COVID-19.
The reporting requirements relating to cases of, or deaths from, COVID-19 under RIDDOR apply only to occupational exposure, that is, as a result of a person’s work.
What to report
You should only make a report under RIDDOR when one of the following circumstances applies:
- an accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence
- a person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease
- a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent
For an incident to be reportable as a dangerous occurrence, the incident must have resulted (or could have resulted) in the release or escape of coronavirus, that is, led to a possible or actual exposure to coronavirus.
The assessment does not require any complex analysis, measurement or test, but rather for a reasonable judgement to be made as to whether the circumstances gave rise to a real risk or had the potential to cause significant harm.
When deciding if a report is required, the responsible person (usually the employer) must make a judgement, based on the information available, as to whether or not a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is likely to have been caused by an occupational exposure, that is, whether or not there is reasonable evidence that a work-related exposure is the likely cause of the disease.
For an incident to be reportable as a death due to occupational exposure to coronavirus there must be reasonable evidence that a work-related exposure caused the worker’s death.
Reasonable evidence of occupational exposure
When deciding if a report is required, the responsible person must make a judgement, based on the information available, as to whether or not a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is likely to have been caused by an occupational exposure, i.e. whether or not there is reasonable evidence that a work-related exposure is the likely cause of the disease. Whilst this should be considered on a case by case basis, there are some general principles which can assist in making this judgement.
There must be reasonable evidence linking the nature of the person’s work with an increased risk of becoming exposed to coronavirus.
Factors to take into account when making this decision could include:
- whether or not the nature of the person’s work activities increased the risk of them becoming exposed to coronavirus?
- whether or not there was any specific, identifiable incident that led to an increased risk of exposure?
- whether or not the person’s work directly brought them into contact with a known coronavirus hazard without effective control measures, as set out in the relevant PHE guidance, in place such as personal protective equipment (PPE) or social distancing
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list.
There may also be cases where a registered medical practitioner has highlighted the significance of work-related factors when communicating a diagnosis of COVID-19 - these cases would also be reportable.
Additionally, for an occupational exposure to be judged as the likely cause of the disease, 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.
Work with the general public, as opposed to work with persons known to be infected, is not considered sufficient evidence to indicate that a COVID-19 diagnosis is likely to be attributable to occupational exposure. Such cases do not require a report.
Where a worker dies from COVID-19 and a RIDDOR report has already been submitted for a case of disease, this can be amended by submitting a duplicate form. All relevant information should be resubmitted, with any changes
Responsible persons do not need to conduct extensive enquiries in seeking to determine whether a COVID-19 infection is work-related. The judgement should be made on the basis of the information available. There is no requirement for RIDDOR reports to be submitted on a precautionary basis, where there is no evidence to suggest that occupational exposure was the likely cause of an infection.