HSE has issued advice on when and how to report exposure to coronavirus or a diagnosis of COVID 19, in the workplace under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).
Advice issued in early April says that: “If someone dies as a result of a work-related exposure to coronavirus and this is confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner, then you must report this as a death due to exposure to a biological agent using the ‘case of disease’ report form.
“You must report workplace fatalities to HSE by the quickest practicable means without delay and send a report of that fatality within 10 days of the incident.”
If a worker contracts coronavirus due to exposure to a “biological agent” it is also reportable under RIDDOR. An example of this could be a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus, leading to people being exposed.
The advice comes as several NHS workers have died due to coronavirus which they were exposed to in the course of their work.
Danny McShee, partner at Kennedy’s law, warns however, that far from helping healthcare employers, the guidance just creates more work for them partly because the guidance he says is unclear.
“The majority of those who will be impacted by this guidance will be the NHS and other health organisations, or those who are supporting those functions for example those providing cleaning services, deliveries and security services.
"At a time when those businesses are overworked and understaffed, it appears to us that the time spent trying to interpret this guidance, and undertaking the necessary investigations in order to determine whether a case is reportable, will result in valuable safety resource being redirected from providing the front line with the safety support they need (Personal Protective Equipment, COVID-19 tool box talks, training on new procedures, welfare support).”
"This has unintentionally created confusion. The sectors on which this guidance has the biggest impact are sadly those which are doing their best to keep key workers at work.
"Further strain on those businesses by way of excessive and unclear reporting requirements may sadly ultimately result in an impact on the services they are able to provide.”
RIDDOR reporting of Covid-19 here
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