RIDDOR – Covid-19

Did you know that catching the COVID-19 virus from your workplace is a RIDDOR reportable incident? There are 3 discerning circumstances when you should make a report:

  • when an accident or incident could have led to the release of coronavirus. Under RIDDOR this is a ‘Dangerous Occurrence’. These are similar to Near Misses.
  • When a worker has been diagnosed [by a registered medical practitioner] with COVID-19 and this has been attributed to an occupational exposure. This would be termed as ‘a case of disease’ under RIDDOR.
  • When a worker has died as a result of exposure to the virus, through occupational exposure. This would come under the term ‘work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent’.

So what constitutes as occupational exposure? Has there been any reasonable evidence that work-related exposure is the likely cause of the disease?

Here are some further questions on occupational exposure:

  • Did the worker’s work increase the risk of them being exposed?
  • Is there an identifiable incident that led to an increased risk of exposure?
  • Was a lack of effective controls likely to be the cause of the contraction?

 

 

Definition Buster:

DANGEROUS OCCURRENCES

These are events that whilst don’t result in injury, they had the potential to cause significant harm. In this case it would have been an outbreak of COVID-19.  Imagine leaving your canteen uncleaned for a day, then someone comes along and says they’ve just been diagnosed with COVID-19?  If nobody had used the canteen for some reason, then you may well say this is a ‘dangerous occurrence’.  It may also be classed as ‘a case of disease’ if the worker contracted the virus from work.

 

CASE OF DISEASE: EXPOSURE TO A BIOLOGICAL AGENT

This would be the judgement call of the employer, based on available information, whether or not a case of COVID-19 was transmitted through occupational exposure. We’re looking at ‘reasonable evidence’ and that might be from a variety of factors corroborated into a viable scenario. Classic examples of this and the below option are from working within a Hospital that deals, primarily with COVID-19 patients when a loss of containment has led to an outbreak within a ward.

 

WORK-RELATED DEATH DUE TO EXPOSURE TO A BIOLOGICAL AGENT

Again, there must be reasonable evidence to support a claim that occupational exposure to a biological agent was the main reason for death. If this is the case then the RIDDOR report should be made within 10 days using the ‘case of disease’ report form.