Letter to HSE on reporting deaths and RIDDOR

27 May 2020

Dear Mr Temple and Ms Albon,

Further to the oral evidence you presented to the Work and Pensions Select Committee in Parliament on Wednesday 13 May, I am writing to ask for clarification on two aspects. First in relation to the definition of responsible person within the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), and the process for recording occupational deaths of health and care staff from COVID-19. 

Responsible person
RIDDOR sets out that, on notification by a registered medical practitioner, the responsible person has to report a workplace fatality to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under Regulation 6 of RIDDOR. Under regulation 2 of RIDDOR a responsible person is either the employer, self -employed person or a person in control of a premises. HSE’s guidance on reporting states “If you are an employer, you must report any work-related deaths, and certain work-related injuries, cases of disease, and near misses involving your employees wherever they are working”. As explained during your Committee evidence, the responsible person could now be the hospital/setting where the health care worker was treated and died, rather than their employer. This is not our understanding. We have been clear that the duty to RIDDOR report lies with an employer so please can you clarify the statement made.

Reporting of occupational health and care worker deaths from COVID-19
As you may know, the true numbers of health and care staff who have contracted COVID-19 including those who have died remains unreported and based on media accounts. We have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to demand that accurate collection, recording and reporting of health and care worker deaths in all settings is made publicly available. 
At the time of your evidence session, you confirmed that there have only been 71 health and care worker deaths related to COVID-19 reported to you so far. When a nurse at work contracts COVID-19 it may be difficult to establish whether the exposure occurred inside or outside of work. However, since tighter public restrictions were put in place on 16th March to reduce community exposure, the balance of probabilities is that the nurse was exposed to the infection at work. We also are acutely aware of problems with adequate and correct protective personal equipment being made available to protect staff caring for vulnerable or COVID-19 patients. 

We expect that all health and care employers RIDDOR report all cases of health and care workers contracting COVID-19 as disease incidents where they have been exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and to report fatalities for all health and care worker deaths related to COVID-19. This is vital if we are to understand the true impact that COVID-19 has had on the life of health and care staff. It is concerning that HSE do not have higher numbers of reports considering the emerging evidence suggests more than 200 health and care workers have died. 

We ask that you act to ensure that all frontline staff deaths related to COVID-19 are reported to you as occupational fatalities as a precaution. 

I look forward to your substantive reply. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dame Donna Kinnair 
Chief Executive and General Secretary 

 

Page last updated - 10/07/2020