Health and Safety Executive Issue Guidance regarding reporting of COVID-19 – COVID update 19

The Health and Safety Executive, the tripartite body that includes representatives of employers and trade unions, has issued new guidance setting out what events relating to COVID-19 must be reported under RIDDOR.

Tue 14th April 2020 The PDA

PDAU welcomes guidance from HSE requiring the reporting of certain matters related to COVID-19 under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

The Health and Safety Executive, the tripartite body that includes representatives of employers and trade unions, has issued new guidance setting out what events relating to COVID-19 must be reported under RIDDOR. While the PDAU is acutely aware of the pressures members are currently under, the volume of patients being seen, and the issues around PPE, we believe this is important guidance and must be followed. This will, we believe, ensure a full and evidence-based assessment of the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace is possible once the immediate crisis is over.

Full details of the new reporting guidance can be found here.

Please note that the reporting requirement for members in Northern Ireland is to the NI HSE.

RIDDOR place a legal duty on employers, the self-employed and those in control of work premises, defined as the responsible person, to report to the HSE occurrences that fall within its definition of a reportable incident. These include deaths and injuries resulting from workplace accidents, dangerous occurrences and any exposure of workers to carcinogens, mutagens and biological agents.

The guidance sets out 3 events where reporting must occur and, in many instances, responsibility may lie with PDAU members to make the report or, as a matter of urgency, ensure the matter is brought to the attention of their employer.

The full list is here.

Members attention is drawn particularly to the requirement to report cases of COVID-19 as Exposure to a Biological Agent. The guidance states:

“If there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work you must report this as an exposure to a biological agent using the case of disease report. An example of a work-related exposure to coronavirus would be a health care professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19.”

Members are therefore advised that there is a responsibility to make sure that any incident of someone working in a Pharmacy, including the pharmacist, who contracts the virus creates a reportable event and it must be reported using the procedure and forms available on the HSE website.

Any death that occurs as a result of this must be reported as a workplace fatality.

The precise wording of the guidance says:

“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.”

The PDAU and the TUC have long supported the work of the HSE and its efforts to ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. Much of the progress in creating safer workplaces, including the legal rights afforded to trade union safety reps, has been achieved in conjunction with the HSE.

Paul Day PDAU Director commented “ Although this can be seen as another form filling exercise taking time away from caring for patients it is important members follow this guidance and either report if they are the responsible person, or ensure their employer is fully aware of the need to report any instances that fall within the guidance.”

“Members should also refer to us if they believe their employer is not reporting under the guidance”.

“There will come a time for assessment and analysis of the full impact of COVID-19 and the measures taken to protect healthcare workers. It is essential we have the evidence this reporting will provide to ensure that assessment is meaningful and of relevance to our members in the frontline”.

Further information including all of the guidance issued by the HSE regarding the current outbreak and the more general responsibilities to report accidents at work can be found on their website.

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