8th April 2020
Coronavirus Outbreaks to be Reportable Under RIDDOR 2013
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed on Friday 3rd April that certain instances of Coronavirus outbreaks in the workplace will be reportable under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.
Such incidents include:
1. An unintended incident at work which has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This is to be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
2. A worker being diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This is to be reported as a case of disease.
What should employers be doing to minimise risks of exposure?
There are a number of measures employers should be taking in order to ensure the continued safety and health of their workforce.
Guidance has been issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK government on what best practice should look like.
This includes things like ensuring social distancing of 2 metres between persons can be implemented and managed, altering shift patterns to allow for increased workplace cleaning regimes, providing well-stocked welfare facilities for hand cleaning and displaying the appropriate workplace posters reminding employees of their obligations.
How can employers ensure that they are doing enough?
For those workplaces that are still operational, either holding key worker status or by not having the ability to facilitate employees working from home, Lighthouse can support by undertaking an audit of the measures taken to reduce COVID-19 exposure in your workplace.
The audit covers the relevant guidance issued by WHO and UK government and is tailored to your specific operational circumstances.
A report will be produced, evidencing external guidance on the matter for any authorities which may scrutinise control measures in the future.
The report will also include a prioritised action plan of any additional measures deemed appropriate for your workplace.
How do I book my COVID-19 audit?
If you are an existing Lighthouse Health & Safety customer, and you have a support contract containing an allowance of consultancy visits, please contact the office on 0845 459 1724 to schedule.
All audits will be considered and internally risk assessed as to whether a visit is valid or if a desk-top exercise can be conducted.
What are the consequences of not implementing additional infection control measures?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places an absolute duty of care on employers to maintain the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This duty is likely to be extended to preventing illness from COVID-19 in the workplace.
Duty holders also have a responsibility under Section 3 of the ‘Act’ to protect persons other than employees.
Individuals have duties under Section 7 of the Act not to put themselves or others at risk and to follow their employer’s reasonable requests.
It is also a requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to carry out a risk assessment of significant risks in the workplace and where the duty holder employs more than 5 employees to document the risk assessment. Risk assessments must also consider vulnerable persons which is especially relevant given the current crisis.
It is likely that the HSE and Environmental Health Officers will seek to deal with organisations who are seen to not be taking their obligations seriously in the same manner as any other breach of UK Health & Safety legislation.
This could mean improvement/prohibition notices and even prosecution if failings are deemed serious enough.