What to do when a notifiable incident occurs in your workplace

By Portner Press on April 23rd, 2019
  1. Fire, Emergency & Incidents
  2. Emergency Management

You have a legal obligation under all health and safety legislation to report any serious injury or illness, death, or dangerous incident that occurs in your workplace.

A dangerous incident (also called a notifiable near miss) is either an incident that causes immediate serious risks to someone’s health or safety, or exposure to a hazardous substance, e.g. asbestos or hazardous chemicals, which is likely to create a serious risk to someone’s health or safety in the future.

Below we outline what steps you must take in the event of a notifiable incident.

Step 1: Seek medical assistance

When an incident results in a serious injury or illness, seek immediate medical attention for the affected person by:

  • providing first aid; or
  • dialling 000 to request an ambulance if necessary.

Step 2: Take control of the incident site

When any notifiable incident occurs, you must:

  • arrange the rescue of any person still within the incident area (if it is safe to do so);
  • make the area safe to prevent anyone else from being hurt or exposed to harm; and
  • preserve the incident site, i.e. do not disturb the site where the incident occurred.

Step 3: Report the incident internally

You must report all incidents (regardless of severity, including near misses) internally immediately after they occur. Establish an internal notification procedure for this.

Internal reporting of an incident helps to ensure that:

  • your external notification obligations are met, using accurate information;
  • assistance has been provided to site managers and employees;
  • immediate safety is assured;
  • the incident site has been properly preserved;
  • legal advice can be sought;
  • appropriate prevention activities are implemented; and
  • internal investigation activities can begin.

Step 4: Determine who will notify the health and safety regulator of the incident

In many cases, there are several parties involved in a notifiable incident, or who are aware of the incident occurring. Each party who has some knowledge of the incident has a responsibility to ensure it is reported to the health and safety regulator.

This does not mean that every party is required to complete a notification report, as long as there is agreement about who will report on behalf of others.

Step 5: Notify your health and safety regulator of the incident

Under the WHS Act, a person who conducts a business or undertaking (PCBU) must immediately notify the regulator of the incident.

In Victoria, an employer or self-employed person must immediately notify the regulator once a notifiable incident has occurred.

In WA, the person who should notify the regulator is either an employer or self-employed person, depending on whether the incident occurred at an employer’s business or at the business of a self-employed person.

The following flowchart shows the process for notifying your regulator of an incident by phone:

Written notification must either be provided on the health and safety regulator’s approved form or contain the details outlined in the form.

Step 6: Make a record of the injury and incident

Accident and injury compensation laws require injuries to be recorded.

You can keep your register of incidents in:

  • a diary;
  • an exercise book; or
  • an electronic file.

Make sure all your workers know that every incident must be reported and documented in the register.

Ideally, the injured or ill person’s supervisor or the trained first aid provider should enter the information in the register.

Step 7: Notify your insurer

If there is a serious injury from an incident, there is an obligation under workers’ compensation laws to notify the workers’ compensation insurer, usually within 48 hours of the incident. This applies to all jurisdictions.

Learn more in the Health & Safety Handbook

Chapters N1 Notification of Incidents and I1 Incident Reporting and Investigation in the Handbook cover everything you must know and do to meet your incident reporting obligations.

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