In these most uncertain of times for businesses, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now given clear and specific guidance on the circumstances when a company is required to prepare and submit a RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) report.
In the event that an employee has potentially or actually been exposed to coronavirus or has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence that this was due to exposure at work then a RIDDOR report must be produced. If an employee dies as a result of work related coronavirus exposure, and this is confirmed as the likely cause of death by a registered medical practitioner, this is reportable and needs to be filed within 10 days of the death.
We are all adjusting to the radical changes to our lives, with many employees now working at home. However, key workers and essential businesses continue to operate with the attendant risks in workplaces such as hospitals, laboratories, construction sites and factories.
The guidance issued by the HSE is helpful and gives clarity in these uncertain and challenging times.
The key when considering if an incident exposure or death is RIDDOR reportable for businesses is if this is directly work related. For example, an employee may have caught coronavirus on the bus travelling into work, rather than doing anything at work which has led to them being exposed. This would not be a RIDDOR reportable incident.
Businesses need to consider carefully whether their work activities, the equipment used or the layout of the work premises may have led to the employee developing Covid-19 whilst at work. If so a RIDDOR report must be completed.
On a broader level the authorities will be looking at regulatory compliance and this will be a starting point in any regulatory investigation and to ensure compliance. The business should take immediate action to reduce the risk of employees (and others) being exposed to coronavirus whilst undertaking their work related activities.
The Government have issued guidance, having taken into account expert medical opinion and recommendations and, in brief, the key important measures are :
- High risk individuals should be excluded from the workplace.
- Allowing those with non-essential roles to work at home and having the correct equipment and infrastructure to do so.
- Restructuring the workplace to ensure that those still in work are at least 2 metres apart.
- A structured cleaning regime to include ensuring that equipment and surfaces are hygienically disinfected.
There are, of course, other actions and measures which should be implemented such as undertaking risk assessments and method statements in respect of the new risks which Covid-19 causes.
It is also vital that management are given the authority and power to enforce the new measures and that there is robust auditing to show compliance.
All of the above are important in protecting the company if the regulatory authorities carry out an investigation and can possibly mean the difference between enforcement action being taken or the level of any penalty imposed by the courts which, following the implementation of the Sentencing Guidelines for Health & Safety Offences, can be very significant.
To view the official HSE guidance on Covid-19 please click here.
To download this Article as a PDF please click here.
If you would like to know more about this matter, please speak to your contact at Plexus Law:
T: 0113 4681 825 | M: 07557 391 631 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whilst we take care to ensure that the material in this Article is correct, it is made available for information only, and no representation is given as to its quality, accuracy, fitness for purpose, or usefulness. In particular, the contents of this Article do not give specific legal advice, should not be relied on as doing so, are not a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. Plexus Law accepts no responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published in this Article.