The SoR is reminding members and health and safety reps that work-related exposures to infectious diseases, including Covid-19, must be reported by employers.
RIDDOR - the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations Northern Ireland 1997, require employers to report work-related exposures to transmissible illnesses, diseases and fatalities.
The Society understands this requirement includes staff who contract Covid-19 whilst working in clinical practice and who have been exposed to patients with the coronavirus.
Under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations, SoR accredited health and safety reps have a right to access this information. If it is not made available to them, for example through the local health and safety committee, they can request to see it.
The NHS joint unions, including the SoR, have written to the CEO of the Health and Safety Executive, asking that guidance for employers is clarified to ensure Covid-19 infections and deaths are reported. Because of the "disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME healthcare workers and wider communities," the unions are also requesting HSE record ethnicity and gender data.
The letter continues, "We are concerned at the reluctance of many NHS organisations to report cases under RIDDOR. Whereas in some parts of the country NHS organisations are reporting every case of Covid-19 infection in their healthcare workers, others have taken a decision not to report any cases as there is no 'definitive evidence' they contracted it at work.
"It is particularly worrying that in some areas there appears to be a co-ordinated move not to report any cases as a result of changes to the HSE’s guidance. Such variance in practice clearly distorts the picture and inhibits learning."
Guidance for union health and safety reps has been issued by the joint unions, including suggested text for a letter to employers which are not reporting staff Covid-19 cases.