Management Information: Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease reports made by employers to HSE and Local Authorities since 10 April 2020

Technical summary of data

Overview

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), certain cases of COVID-19 in workers where there is reasonable evidence to suggest that it was caused by occupational exposure are reportable to the relevant enforcing authority.

In order to contribute to evidence around cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in workers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are publishing counts of notifications made by employers to the enforcing authority (either HSE or Local Authority) of suspected cases of occupational COVID-19 in workers in Great Britain, based on these statutory reports.

The figures include:

Description of the data source

HSE collects data on cases of disease in workers resulting from exposure to biological agents under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (2013) - RIDDOR. (Specifically, regulation 6(2) and 9(b)). The intention of these regulations is to ensure that the enforcing authority (either HSE or Local Authority) is notified of cases of certain occupational disease so that where appropriate, they can take follow-up action. 

SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) is classified as a hazard group 3 pathogen, so therefore is a biological agent as defined under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). Consequently, RIDDOR regulation 6(2) and 9(b) applies to cases of COVID-19 due to occupational exposure.

Up until 31 March 2022, RIDDOR reporting guidance required all confirmed cases of COVID-19 where there was reasonable evidence to suggest that it was caused by occupational exposure to be reported. On 1 April 2022, revised guidance on RIDDOR reporting requirements for COVID-19 was issued. Only cases of COVID-19 due to either deliberately working with the virus (such as in a laboratory) or being incidentally exposed to the virus from working in environments where people are known to have COVID-19 (for example in health and social care) are reportable. Cases due to general transmission (either worker-to-worker, or from contact with members of the public) are no longer reportable. Full details on reporting requirements post April 2022 can be found on our guide RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19.

Notifications must be sent to HSE without delay. Reports are made via the online reporting tool provided on HSE’s website. For deaths, employers can also report by telephone to HSE’s Incident Contact Centre.

On receipt of the notification in the database, the report is automatically allocated to the appropriate enforcing authority where further checks on the data provided are made and where appropriate investigations initiated. During these checks, some reports may be identified as non-reportable under RIDDOR requirements (for example they may be reports of general workplace COVID-19 concerns) while for others, the enforcing authority may conclude that there is insufficient evidence to confirm work as the source of exposure. Reviewing individual case reports can take some time. This further information is not retrospectively recorded against the original report.

Previously published data

HSE does not routinely publish statistics based on RIDDOR disease notifications. This is because the disease notification system suffers wide-spread under-reporting and has the potential to give a distorted view of both the scale and spread of cases by important risk factors (such as industry sector). While HSE routinely publish statistics based on RIDDOR injury notifications, there are a number of important differences:

Disease reporting also has the additional difficulty of reliably attributing a case of disease to an occupational exposure. This is particularly difficult in the case of COVID-19 where the infection is prevalent in the general community.

However, given the current priority of COVID-19, HSE is publishing, as management information, details of work-related COVID-19 reports made to the enforcing authorities under RIDDOR. This data, while not providing an accurate count of the absolute number of occupational COVID-19 cases in Great Britain, will provide an indicator of the numbers being reported to the enforcing authority and show how this changes over time.

The following limitations should be borne in mind when considering the data:

Full details on reporting requirements post April 2022 can be found on our guide RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19.

Updated 2022-05-09