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?
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.