Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Further memorandum submitted by DWP

  RIDDOR requires reporting of a limited range of disease/ill-health cases based on those which lead to entitlement for industrial injury disablement benefit eg dermatitis, occupational asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome. RIDDOR does not cover stress, or many musculoskeletal disorders. Some 2,500 RIDDOR disease reports are received each year.

  It is very difficult to estimate "under-reporting" of diseases as there is no available independent estimate of the number of cases that "ought" to be reported. This is because, although the definition of what is reportable in RIDDOR is based on the Industrial Injury prescribed disease list, the terms under which cases are reportable do not relate to whether the affected individual has made a claim. Instead, cases are reportable if the employer sees a medical certificate identifying the illness as one on the list and if the individual is, at the time, exposed to the specified occupational conditions. There are no severity or absence criteria. Indirect evidence suggests that under reporting is substantial in relation to all cases that might fall under the reportability conditions, perhaps less than 5% being reported, but there is no way of knowing how many such cases fulfilled the medical certificate and exposure conditions in a way that made them reportable from the information available to the employer who has the reporting duty.

  However, HSE assembles overall data on work related ill health from a range of sources. RIDDOR plays very little part in contributing to that overall picture.

  The RIDDOR Regulations were reviewed in 2005-06 and a comprehensive paper, including discussion of reporting levels, the need for the information collected, alternative sources (especially for ill health data), and the pros and cons of potential change options, was considered by the Commission in July 2006. The Commission's conclusion was that, although the Regulations had their flaws, having weighed the costs and benefits of potential change the balance lay in favour of retaining the status quo. That paper (HSC/06/40) and annexes, together with the record of the Commission's discussion and conclusion are publicly available at the web link below:

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