5/05/2020 By Lucy Trimmer

Is Covid-19 reportable under RIDDOR 2013?

Given the current global pandemic affecting the UK economy, most businesses might consider that a Covid-19 outbreak within their workplace might not be reportable to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR 2013, but in fact, under certain conditions, it is. Covid-19 is classified within any business under the regulations as an occupational disease. Alternatively the release of Covid-19 from a laboratory or testing facility would be classed as a dangerous occurrence.


Cleary, given the transmissible nature of the virus, determining an exact source can be difficult. This is why only instances where there is supported evidence to suggest that exposure has arisen due to workplace activities will require RIDDOR reporting, which in our view will be unintended events, or poor management of the Covid-19 risks within a workplace.


The RIDDOR 2013 Regulations deal with the reporting of serious Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences and make it a legal requirement for businesses to report these to the HSE if they occur. The consequence of not reporting such occurrences could lead to a 2 year custodial sentence or result in an unlimited fine for the business responsible.


The purpose of the RIDDOR regulations is for the HSE to be able to monitor overall trends in accidents and incidents. Trend analysis helps to identify existing or emerging hazards and risks that need to be addressed through the issuing of new legislation or guidance to prevent re-occurrence elsewhere. HSE investigations initiated through RIDDOR reporting help to ascertain what future practice is required and how it can be introduced.


Not all workplace accidents and incidents are reportable however – only serious events. The criteria for RIDOOR is set out in the regulations but broadly consists of:

  • The fatality of any person
  • Occupational diseases
  • Specified injuries – including burns, amputations and head injuries
  • Injuries caused to members of the public
  • More than 7 consecutive days off due to the workplace injury
  • Dangerous Occurrences or near misses
  • Gas Incidents  



The HSE have recently issued guidance noting when Covid-19 outbreaks associated with the workplace are reportable under RIDDOR 2013.

They are, as reported by IOSH:

  • 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.

Clearly determining the exact source of a contracted case of the Covid-19 given how easily the virus can spread is tricky. Cases of Covid-19 are therefore not reportable to the HSE unless:


‘there is reasonable evidence suggesting that a work- related exposure was the likely cause of the disease and this is supported by a registered medical practitioner’s diagnosis'


At 2SB, we consider the new guidance as a reminder of the need for responsible management of Covid-19 and its risks within the workplace. For those businesses being in the fortunate position of still being able to operate during this time, it remains critical that the government guidelines are followed and that any worker experiencing symptoms or who advises you that they might have been exposed are sent into self-isolation. For smaller businesses the loss of key members of staff might seem daunting, however the consequences of the spread of the infection throughout the workplace would be far greater. Possible reporting of the exposure to the HSE by staff who feel they have not been adequately protected by their employer also presents a risk to businesses not committed to managing Covid-19 responsibly.

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