The Access Group discuss the latest advice from the HSE on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how that looks in a workplace environment
With the world in lockdown, all eyes are beginning to look to the future and what that might look like over the coming months. One area which will have a spotlight on it more than ever before is Health & Safety. Therefore, we wanted to bring to you the latest advice from the HSE on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how that looks in a workplace environment.
*Please note this information has been taken from hse.gov.uk but does not replace or supersede any up-to-date information given on GOV.UK where the DHSC and PHE are leading the UK government response to the outbreak.
Regulatory Activity During the Outbreak
The HSE themselves have mobilised their workforce to work remotely and so here are some of the consequences:
- HSE has suspended targeted inspection activity of high-risk industries that are not part of the major hazard sectors, including construction and manufacturing.
- All offshore oil and gas and onshore chemical, explosive and microbiological industry inspections have been paused.
- Any regulatory activities that do not require site visits will continue as normally as possible – for example, approvals and authorisation work for biocides and pesticides, statutory permissioning, thorough reviews etc.
- Investigation of all work-related deaths will continue across all sectors. The most serious major injuries, dangerous occurrences and reported concerns from the workforce or public where there is exposure to risks from work activities will also still be investigated and action will be taken to secure compliance with the law.
- As much work as possible will be undertaken remotely but the HSE will still mobilise to site, including offshore, where it is necessary to provide public assurance that hazards are being effectively managed and laws are being complied with. In such cases, social distancing guidelines will be followed.
RIDDOR Reporting of COVID-19
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) saw a huge shift in the number of incidents that had to be reported to the HSE. These are the current guidelines relating to COVID-19.
A report under RIDDOR must be submitted:
- If an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This would be classified as a dangerous occurrence.
An example of this would be if a lab worker accidentally smashed a vial containing coronavirus thus leading to potential exposure.
- If a worker has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and there is evidence that it’s likely to have been contracted by exposure at work. This would be reported as a case of the disease.
For example, if a healthcare worker is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19.
- If a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.
What does all this mean?
There are fundamental changes in the way that health and safety measures can and are currently being regulated. The extent to which these changes will affect individual organisations and businesses is yet to be determined but it is clear at the moment that these things are being updated, assessed and adjusted regularly and as required. It is, therefore, more important than ever to stay vigilant and informed to maintain the safety and health of those around you.
For more updates and information about the occupational health and safety implications of the COVID-19 outbreak then please keep an eye on www.hse.gov.uk and always follow advice and guidelines given by the government in these challenging times. For more information about how software can help manage the challenges ahead please speak to one of our health and safety software experts – click here to request a call back »