HSE updates coronavirus guidance

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has set out new guidance where incidents of coronavirus may be reportable.

They are:

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence; or
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.

Following the announcement, leading OSH lawyer Rhian Greaves, a partner at Pannone Corporate, said the new guidance poses more questions than it answers, particularly for those businesses with open workplaces that are operating away from the frontline NHS response.

Speaking to IOSH magazine, she said: ‘In the absence of routine testing, what constitutes a diagnosis? What amounts to reasonable evidence? What level of investigation into each case is required? Given the ease of transmission, how can the employer (or indeed the employee) know exactly where and how the virus was contracted?

‘The HSE is not to be criticised. Like all government agencies, it is racing to keep pace with this frightening pandemic. However, it is hoped that further guidance will be forthcoming soon to help employers navigate the rigours of RIDDOR reporting (with all the potentially diversionary investigation that entails) at this difficult time.’