COVID-19 | Update for Schools from HSE

This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's Senior Health and Safety Adviser, Vicki Swift, for the attention of All Schools.

HSE RIDDOR Reporting of COVID-19

The HSE have updated their guidance regarding COVID-19 and are now requiring employers to report the following incidents to them via the RIDDOR reporting process on webpage:

  1. An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to Coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  2. When a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  3. When a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to Coronavirus.

Dangerous Occurrences are defined as: something happens at work which results in (or could result in) the release or escape of Coronavirus.

An example of a dangerous occurrence would be a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing Coronavirus, leading to people being exposed. 

Cases of Disease | Exposure to a biological agent is when there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work.

An example of a work-related exposure to coronavirus would be a health care professional who is diagnosed with COVID-19 after treating patients with COVID-19.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the H&S Team.

First Aid Cover and Qualifications

  • First Aid certificate extensions

If first aiders hold certificates that expired on or after 16th March 2020 and are unable to access requalification because of the Coronavirus then they may be eligible to qualify for a 3 months extension. This applies to:

  • First Aid at Work (FAW)
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)

To qualify for the extension, an explanation must be given as to why the requalification was not possible and a demonstration may be required as to what steps were taken to access training.

Hand Sanitizers

Public Health England has advised that hand sanitizers should have 60% or higher alcohol content to be effective against the COVID-19 virus.

Thorough Examination and Testing of Lifting and Pressure Equipment

The law for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) remain in place.

Maintaining Your Thorough Examination and Testing Scheme

  • Ensure social distancing measures in the workplace aren’t perceived to be a barrier to carrying out TE&T – businesses and inspection bodies should cooperate to ensure access to plant and equipment for TE&T continues to schedule.
  • For businesses that are currently closed, i.e. they have either elected or been required to do so to meet COVID-19 related government advice or restrictions, you should still give access to visiting inspectors to undertake thorough examinations.
  • There may be occasions where inspectors are not available to meet the demands of industry and this may lead to difficulties for some businesses fulfilling their obligations for TE&T. Inspectors are supporting GB industry to maintain operations and viability and may have to prioritise critical industries and the protection of equipment aiding vulnerable persons.
  • If you experience problems in undertaking scheduled thorough examinations as you can’t cannot access inspection services, you should adopt a risk based process to determine the whether there are steps you can to take to safely continue to use equipment (that has not had its scheduled TE&T) or decide to stop using the equipment.
  • The overarching legal obligation remains, i.e. ensure that equipment is safe to use.

 HSE’s Enforcement Approach During the Period of the Outbreak

  • HSE will adopt a pragmatic and proportionate approach towards enforcement action for non-compliance with statutory requirements which are directly attributable to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
  • Our usual enforcement response will be to take no action if the only failing is that TE&T is not carried out by the required date.
  • Equipment should only be used outside of its test regime if you can demonstrate that it is critical for essential work and that it can still be operated safely.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to have the TE&T carried out, made a thorough assessment of the increased risk and taken appropriate action to manage it.