HSE has recommended expanding the list of occupational diseases required to be reported under RIDDOR, saying that changes to the law have meant that some “potentially life-threatening illnesses” have gone unreported.
Initially, there were 47 occupational diseases that employers had to legally report under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, but these were later cut down to six in 2013 after reviews into health and safety legislation called for ‘greater clarity and simplicity’ in RIDDOR.
Now, HSE says that senior medical advisers and specialist inspectors are concerned that individuals with "potentially life-threatening illness…no longer come to the attention of HSE.”
The diseases of particular concern that are currently missing from the reportable diseases list are: pneumoconiosis (e.g. silicosis), extrinsic allergic alveolitis, decompression illness, pulmonary barotrauma and poisoning due to certain chemical exposures.
HSE says that investigation and enforcement has been lacking in these areas as a result. “Potentially...workers are left at significant risk as a result of workplace exposures,” says the report.
“It also reduces the scope for research into these work-related diseases by HSE Science Division and therefore contributions made to the evidence base to improve worker health,” it continues.
The note to expand the disease list has been urged in HSE’s Post Implementation Review of RIDDOR 2013 published in October. It was a requirement to review the law in 2018, which is five years after implementation.
Commenting on the issue, John Dobbie, president-elect of BOHS, which runs the Breathe Freely campaign, said: “It is widely recognised that occupational ill health is not reported to the degree necessary to successfully raise its profile and promote awareness amongst employers in the UK and beyond, despite several high profile campaigns organised by the HSE, BOHS and others."
He said that following Professor Löfstedt’s 2011 report Reclaiming Health and Safety for All: An independent review of health and safety legislation, in 2013 changes were made to RIDDOR, which aimed to simplify what was perceived as overly complex reporting requirements. But that this has not been the case.
“Many professionals, from a variety of health disciplines, considered, however, that this in fact complicated the actual picture on occupational illness incidence and created problems for practitioners who need to collect relevant disease data in order to assign risk categorisations and implement workplace disease reduction strategies.
“The news, therefore, that HSE is planning to add a new reporting requirement for pneumoconiosis (such as silicosis), extrinsic allergic alveolitis, decompression illness, pulmonary barotrauma and poisoning due to certain chemical exposures, that are of specific interest to HSE from a regulatory and scientific perspective; is particularly welcome," he continued.
RIDDOR Post Implementation Review at legislation.gov.uk
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