The Health and Safety Executive has released statistics relating to the RIDDOR reports made as a result of occupational exposure to Covid-19. The results showed that 7,971 disease notifications of COVID-19 in workers were reported to the HSE and Local Authorities (LAs) over the period 10th April – 11th July 2020. This figure includes 119 death notifications.
The total suspected occupational COVID-19 reports made by employers to the enforcing authorities are contained within a table that can be viewed on the HSE website with the following link: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/coronavirus/index.htm. The table shows the peak of reports week commencing 26 April 2020 with 1,183 reports and the lowest level showing 121 reports week commencing 05 July 2020.
A RIDDOR report applies in respect of COVID-19 where there has been an occupational exposure, i.e. as a result of a person’s work. A report should be made under RIDDOR when one of the following circumstances applies:
- An accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (COVID-19). This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
- A person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease.
- A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent.
The majority of reports received are for workers in the Health and Social Work sector, around 75% but this could be higher due to the way that sectors sometimes are misclassified by those making the RIDDOR reports. The details come in light of announcements from the HSE that they will be focusing on COVID compliance spot checks in Bradford and the surrounding Yorkshire area, following a number of local outbreaks identified in the region.
The publishing of the statistics and announcement of enforcement in Yorkshire follows criticism by the MP for Barnsley East of the HSE’s response to Covid, in particular referring to the response as ‘apalling’ after an outbreak in a Barnsley food factory where three workers have died.
It is important that you are regularly updating yourselves with the HSE guidance and ensure that regular checks are completed to comfort yourself that the operations conducted by your organisation is COVID ready. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the guidance available, specifically where you may use cross sector operations which may cross over some of the guidance available. What’s important is that any organisation’s documentation is unique to them and should apply both in writing and practically on a day to day basis. Communication to all that are involved is absolutely essential to ensure that not only the business leaders are aware of its obligations and safeguards, but also all the workers are aware of key documentation and what is in place to protect them which in turn satisfies and discharges the duty of an organisation.
It will be interesting to see some of the enforcement to come from the COVID inspections and if you are approached by the HSE you know where to find us.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other regulatory topic or issue, then please contact the regulatory team at Woods Whur and we would be happy to discuss the law as it stands alongside current guidelines. If you would like to contact us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call us on 0113 234 3055.