Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), infections and dangerous occurrences with biological agents at work must be reported.
Dangerous occurrences are certain unintended, specified events, which may not result in a reportable injury, but which do have the potential to cause significant harm.
For an incident to be reportable as a dangerous occurrence, the incident must have resulted (or could have resulted) in the release or escape of a biological agent likely to cause severe human illness or infection, or a sharps injury involving known blood/body fluid infected with a Blood- Borne Virus (BBV).
In addition, local records should be kept of all such incidents, and the underlying cause(s) should be investigated and noted.
Mandatory Scheme for Reporting Exposures
Some occupational exposures to blood-borne viruses, (HBV, HCV and HIV), are reportable to the HSE under RIDDOR as follows:
- Regulation 7 : dangerous occurrence - any accident or incident which results or could have resulted in the release or escape of a biological agent likely to cause severe human infection or illness.
- Regulation 4(2) an over-seven-day injury - if exposure to the blood-borne virus resulted in the worker being absent from work for seven or more consecutive days; and/or;
- Regulation 9(b) disease - if exposure to the blood-borne virus resulted in the worker acquiring an infection as the result of an occupational exposure to a biological agent.
Occupational exposures to blood borne viruses that result in the worker being incapacitated for more than three consecutive days must be recorded but are not required to be reported.
Further details relating to, and about how to report are available at RIDDOR.
Useful information is also available from the document, Reporting injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences in health and social care: Guidance for employers.
Voluntary Scheme for Reporting Exposures
Surveillance of Significant Occupational Exposures to Blood-borne Viruses in Healthcare Workers.
The UK Health Security Agency receives reports on:
- significant percutaneous or mucocutaneous exposures to blood or other body fluids from a source that is known to be, or as a result of the incident found to be, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis C, or HIV positive; and
- significant percutaneous or mucocutaneous exposures to blood or other body fluids from a source patient considered to be of high risk of HIV, but the viral status is unknown and the worker has commenced HIV PEP.
Further details on the surveillance scheme are available at: Blood borne Viruses (BBVs) and Occupational Exposure