June 4, 2020
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Under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) organisations are required to report certain work related accidents, injuries, dangerous occurrences and diseases involving their employees and others.

Most organisations are familiar with the requirements for reporting injuries, the regulations also include lists of the types of dangerous occurrence that need to be reported depending on the type of work involved and certain occupational diseases such as occupational dermatitis or hand arm vibration syndrome and the circumstances in which they would need to be reported.

But what about situations where a worker is diagnosed with a disease that is not specifically listed, e.g. Coronavirus / COVID-19, are there situations where that would need to be reported?

The regulations set out three circumstances in which reporting would be required.

Firstly as a dangerous occurrence if there was an accident or incident that resulted (or could have resulted) in the release of a biological agent likely to cause severe human infection or illness. An example could be a bottle containing a virus being spilled in a laboratory.

Secondly the regulations do also require reporting of any disease diagnosed in a person at work where this is attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent. (For the purposes of the regulations biological agent means a micro-organism, cell culture, or human endoparasite, whether or not genetically modified, which may cause infection, allergy, toxicity or otherwise create a hazard to human health).

That is a person at work would need to have been diagnosed with the disease and there would need to be reasonable evidence that it had been caused by exposure at work. An example may be a healthcare worker treating people with a disease who is subsequently diagnosed with the disease themselves.

The third case would be if someone died as a result of occupational exposure to a biological agent.

Otherwise the disease would not need to be reported.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using Email: [email protected] if you have any questions or would like assistance with developing training materials, policies and checklists for use in your workplace.