Reporting Covid-19 infection via RIDDOR
An employee has contracted Covid-19. Are we required to report this to the enforcing authority?
Where an employee is confirmed through testing as having contracted Covid-19, this will only be reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) in the following circumstances.
1. An accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) with a possible or actual exposure to the virus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
2. 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.
3. 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.
A reasonable judgment must be made as to whether the circumstances gave rise to a real risk or had the potential to cause significant harm. For example, a laboratory worker accidentally smashing a vial containing coronavirus on the floor outside of a microbiological safety cabinet, leading to people being exposed, would be reportable.
However, where a worker is deliberately coughed on or spat at by a person of unknown Covid-19 status or where a health or social care worker provides treatment or care to a patient or service user who is not known to be Covid-19 positive but that patient or service user subsequently tests positive, are not reportable incidents. It would also be difficult to prove if an employee believes they caught coronavirus from a colleague at work.
When deciding if a report is required as a case of a disease, the responsible person (usually the employer) must make a judgment, based on the information available, as to whether or not a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 is likely to have been caused by an occupational exposure — that is, whether or not there is reasonable evidence that a work-related exposure is the likely cause of the disease.
Factors to take into account when making this decision could include the following.
4. Did the nature of the person’s work activities increase the risk of them being exposed to the coronavirus?
5. Was there any specific, identifiable incident that led to an increased risk of exposure?
6. If the person’s work directly brought them into contact with a known coronavirus hazard without effective control measures.
Cases where a registered medical practitioner has highlighted the significance of work-related factors when communicating a diagnosis of Covid-19 would also be reportable.
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Responsible persons should also consider any official confirmation of Covid-19 infection
such as from a public testing body as being equivalent to a registered medical practitioner’s
Work with the general public, as opposed to work with persons known to be infected, is not
considered sufficient evidence to indicate that a Covid-19 diagnosis is likely to be
attributable to occupational exposure. Such cases do not require a report.
For an incident to be reportable as a death due to occupational exposure to coronavirus,
there must be reasonable evidence that a work-related exposure caused the worker’s
To require a RIDDOR report, the death must be caused by an occupational exposure to
coronavirus; that is, for Covid-19 reported deaths, the disease must have been a significant
cause of the person’s death. Medical evidence such as death certificates are likely to be an
important consideration when determining whether a report is required.
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