29 May, 2020
The MOJ have recently released the Coroners statistics for 2019 for England & Wales on the 14th May 2020.
The statistics confirm:
Of note, the statistics only cover the calendar year January to December 2019. It will not include any reported deaths to the coroner that may have arisen due to COVID-19. Whether there is a marked increased in reported deaths due to COVID-19 will not be known until the statistics are published in May 2021. Recent guidance from the Chief Coroner is that COVID-19 deaths do not necessarily need to be reported to the coroner as they are natural. The increase in jury inquests reflects an increasing scope for Article 2 inquests.
On the 28 April 2020 the Chief Coroner published further guidance to coroners during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chief Coroner reminds coroners that the vast majority of deaths from COVID-19 are due to the natural progression of a naturally occurring disease and so will not be referred to a coroner. He goes on to say when a report to a coroner must be made and when an inquest will and will not be required.
He says that whilst death from Covid-19 is a notifiable disease this "has no bearing on whether such a death is reported to a coroner, still less on whether a death would be the subject of a coroner's. Investigation".
If a medical practitioner completing the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death "suspects that the person's death was due to… (ix) an injury or disease attributable to any employment held during the person's lifetime." then a report to a coroner must be made. So if that is suspected a report can be made to a coroner. However if "there is no reason to suspect that any culpable human failure contributed to the particular death, there will usually be no requirement for an investigation to be opened."
It is also stated that "Coroners are reminded that an inquest is not the right forum for addressing concerns about high-level government or public policy." making it clear that
"an inquest would not be a satisfactory means of deciding whether adequate general policies and arrangements were in place for provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers in the country or a part of it. "
Public Health England Warns of the Risk of Legionella as buildings with a water supply reopen after lockdown.
If water systems have not been used during lockdown there is a risk of Legionella if appropriate steps are not taken. Public Health England has provided information as to what needs to be done to ensure water safety by reviewing and flushing out the water systems, and if necessary using a water consultant.
Legionella is a bacteria, that can lead to Legionnaires Disease if not adequately controlled and this can be fatal. Not dealing with water systems in an adequate way could lead to liability in a claim for compensation should your staff or visitors contract Legionnaires disease whilst using your premises.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd that it will be prosecuted after a seven-year-old boy was ejected from a Twister ride at its theme park in North Stainley, Ripon on 30 May 2019.
Following the investigation by HSE, Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd, of Sherborne, Dorset, will face a charge under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
HSE is currently liaising with Leeds Magistrates' Court to fix a first hearing date.
HSE has published a letter with the Department for Transport, to reassure drivers, and to remind businesses of their obligations to provide suitable toilet and hand washing facilities to drivers visiting their premises.
Businesses which make or receive deliveries, must ensure that drivers have easy and safe access to toilets and hand washing facilities to support their health and wellbeing whilst carrying out their important work, which supports the economy.