By Fiona Burns
06 May 2021

Is an employee testing positive for coronavirus reportable under RIDDOR?

Once a disease is medically confirmed, it should be reported as a “Dangerous Occurrence.” However, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) there is a slightly different process to follow. With COVID-19, RIDDOR applies only where there has been an occupational exposure.

RIDDOR would only be required if one of the following applies to a worker:

  • an accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence
  • a person at work has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease

If a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent

Cases of disease: exposure to a biological agent

When deciding if a report is required, the responsible person (usually the employer) must make a judgement. You must decide, based on the information available, whether it’s likely that a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 was caused by an occupational exposure. In other words, find out whether there is reasonable evidence that work-related exposure is the likely cause of the disease.

The report should specify a disease due to exposure to a biological agent and use the case of disease report form.

Further Guidance on RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

The HSE acknowledges that it’s not easy to determine the full requirements of reporting criteria of Coronavirus (COVID-19). They’ve developed the guidance to help assess and make judgement as to whether a report needs to be made.

Dangerous occurrences must be reported to the relevant enforcing authority (via the Incident Contact Centre - ICC) by the quickest practicable means, without delay and send the report within 10 days (complete the F2508 report form).

The Incident Contact Centre or ICC can be contacted on Tel 0845 300 9923.

Work-related deaths due to exposure to a biological agent

It is possible for an incident to be reportable as a death due to occupational exposure to coronavirus. However, there must be reasonable evidence that a work-related exposure caused the worker's death.

The responsible person should notify the enforcing authority by the quickest practicable means. They need to send a report within 10 days. The report should specify death due to exposure to a biological agent using the "case of disease" report form.

RIDDOR report submitted for the disease but amendments are required

If you have already submitted a report, confirming a worker has been exposed to the virus, and that individual dies from COVID-19, the report can and must be amended.

To amend the form, you will need to submit a duplicate form. This should contain all relevant information including the changes required with the text Amendment to Incident Reference Number (this is the Original Notification No you will have received). This needs to be included in the 'Describe what happened' box, followed by confirmation that the infection has resulted in death.

Cause of death

To require a RIDDOR report, the death must be caused by an occupational exposure to coronavirus. For COVID-19 reported deaths, the disease must have been a significant cause of the person's death.

Medical evidence such as death certificates are likely to be an important consideration when determining whether a report is required.

Expert support with RIDDOR & COVID-19

Guidance for the person reporting, usually the employer (known as the 'responsible person') is available here.

If you're struggling with cases of coronavirus in your workplace, speak to one of our health & safety experts today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns has practical experience in Health & Safety and Risk Management having worked for major insurer prior to joining Croner.

She has gained extensive helpline experience offering competent advice and timely support to large number of clients, in various industries and at all levels.  Completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, also passed NEBOSH Environmental Diploma Unit A, (IOSH Managing Environmental responsibilities). NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, FPA Advance Fire Training, NCRQ Diploma – Distinction currently completing IPD and volunteering for Community project in Atherstone also as a Dementia support worker with CWPT.


Fiona Burns

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