Keeping employees safe is rightfully at the top of every reputable company’s priority list right now, and therefore many have decided in light of new government action to enable employees to work from home. Indeed, COVID-19 has changed many different aspects of business life and new regulations are constantly being developed. One issue that has been raised is the potential for new Coronavirus cases to be RIDDOR reportable.
But should you fill out a RIDDOR report if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace?
COVID-19 cases are reportable if it is due to occupational exposure
RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) was brought in throughout the UK in 2013 to try and provide a framework for good health and safety practice. The other reason RIDDOR is important regarding HSE is it holds employers accountable for potential negligence and dangerous working environments. The nature of RIDDOR regulations means many have asked the question about whether the Coronavirus outbreak could mean for employers in terms of their obligations.
Due to the potential impracticalities and difficulties that would be required to make the cases fit the legislation, cases of COVID-19 are only RIDDOR reportable if they are due to occupational reasons. This could come in a number of forms, including the situations listed below:
- A worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 due to occupational exposure to the virus (dangerous occurrence)
- A worker has died due to contracting COVID-19 in occupational exposure to the virus (work-related death due to biological agent)
- An incident has led to the release, exposure or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the workplace (dangerous occurrence)
It is worth stating that whilst you should report COVID-19 cases that have occurred due to occupational exposure, there is no requirement to fill out a report if a worker has caught the disease elsewhere. The responsible person will need to make a judgement on whether the disease is due to occupational exposure.
In addition to the move to make occupational contraction of COVID-19 RIDDOR reportable, a statutory instrument was introduced in early March 2020 to make cases of the disease ‘notifiable’ when discovered in a medical setting. Additionally, some protected groups will require adequate risk assessments to work out if it safe for them to come to work when disease exposure may be present. These include those with disabilities, pregnant women, and also those who have declared they have underlying health conditions.
You should still take the necessary precautions to protect employees
Whilst cases of COVID-19 were not made immediately RIDDOR reportable, the increasing numbers of workplaces opening up means legislative precautions must be taken to keep workers safe. If your workers are still coming into the workplace, try and adhere to the current government advice around social distancing by keeping employees apart and try to maintain a clean and sanitized environment for them to operate in.
You still have a responsibility to help keep workers safe and healthy working from home
Regulations like RIDDOR were introduced to provide employers with the tools to keep workers safe and notify the relevant authorities if an incident does occur. This responsibility does not end if your business is now working from home. Naturally, lone working is an area in which many more hazards may be occurring in 2020. To help deal with that try to safeguard your employee’s mental health and wellbeing when they are working from home with frequent video and conference calls plus the encouragement of breaks from the desk.