All PCBUs, in all states and territories, are required to notify their work health and safety regulator of certain ‘notifiable incidents’ when they occur at work, under work health and safety (WHS) legislation.
Work health and safety regulators are committed to preventing work-related deaths and injuries. Notifying the regulator of ‘notifiable incidents’ can help identify causes of incidents and prevent similar incidents at your workplace and other workplaces.
How do you know what is reportable and what isn’t?
A ‘notifiable incident’ arising out of the conduct of a business or undertaking at a workplace, is:
- the death of a person
- a ‘serious injury or illness’, or
- a ‘dangerous incident’
‘Notifiable incidents’ may relate to any person—whether an employee, contractor or member of the public.
A notifiable incident should be reported to the regulator immediately after you become aware it has happened; if the regulator asks—written notification within 48 hours of the request, and the incident site to be preserved until an inspector arrives or directs otherwise (subject to some exceptions).
Only the most serious health or safety incidents are notifiable, and only if they are work-related. They trigger requirements to preserve the incident site pending further direction from the regulator.
- A burn requiring intensive care or critical care which could require compression garment or a skin graft. It does not include a burn that merely requires washing the wound and applying a dressing.
- Amputation of a limb such as an arm or leg, body parts such as hand, foot or the tip of a finger, toe, nose or ear.
- Deep or extensive cuts that cause muscle, tendon, nerve or blood vessel damage or permanent impairment, deep puncture wounds, tears of wounds to the flesh or tissues—this may include stitching to prevent loss of blood and/or other treatment to prevent loss of bodily function and/or infection.
- An injury that results in or is likely to result in the loss of the eye or total or partial loss of vision, an injury that involves an object penetrating the eye (for example metal fragment, wood chip) or exposure of the eye to a substance which poses a risk of serious eye damage. It does not include eye exposure to a substance that merely causes irritation.
Some types of work-related dangerous incidents must be notified even if nobody is injured.
The regulator must be notified of any incident in relation to a workplace that exposes any person to a serious risk resulting from immediate or imminent exposure to:
- an uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance
- an uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire
- an uncontrolled escape of gas or steam
- an uncontrolled escape of a pressurised substance
- electric shock, including minor shocks resulting from direct contact with exposed live electrical parts (other than ‘extra low voltage’) including shock from capacitive discharge. Those that are not notifiable include shock due to static electricity, ‘extra low voltage’ shock (arising from electrical equipment less than or equal to 50V AC and less than or equal to 120V DC), defibrillators are used deliberately to shock a person for first aid or medical reasons
- the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing
- the collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that is required
to be design or item registered under the Work Health and Safety Regulations, for example, a collapsing crane
- the collapse or partial collapse of a structure
- the collapse or failure of an excavation or of any shoring supporting an excavation
- the inrush of water, mud or gas in workings, in an underground excavation or tunnel, or
A dangerous incident includes both immediate serious risks to health or safety, and also a risk from immediate exposure to a substance which is likely to create a serious risk to health or safety in the future, for example, asbestos or hazardous chemicals.
Who is responsible for notifying?
Any PCBU from which the ‘notifiable incident’ arises must ensure the regulator is notified immediately after becoming aware it has happened.
Procedures should be put into place to ensure work health and safety incidents are promptly notified to the people responsible for responding to them, for example, a manager and then notified to the regulator if required.
How do I report a notifiable incident?
The notice must be given by the fastest possible means—which could be by telephone or in writing, for example by email or online (if available).
In general, a PCBU ‘becomes aware’ of a notifiable incident once any of their supervisors or managers become aware of the incident e.g. when a worker suffers a serious injury and reports it to their immediate supervisor, it is at this point that the PCBU is considered to be aware of the incident.
It is vital that an incident site is not disturbed until an inspector arrives or directs otherwise (whichever is earlier). The person with management or control of the workplace is responsible for preserving the incident site, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Any evidence that may assist an inspector to determine the cause of the incident must be preserved—including any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the incident.
However, preserving an incident site does not prevent any action needed:
- to assist an injured person
- to remove a deceased person
- to make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further notifiable incident, or
- to facilitate a police investigation.
Records of notifiable incidents must be kept for at least five years from the date of notification. Penalties apply for failing to do so.
It is also a legislated requirement that every PCBU must provide information for workers that outlines how they notify an injury and how they may make a workers compensation claim.
This information must include the name and address of the insurer and must always be available in the workplace. The poster contains steps for employees to follow after a work-related injury or illness and could include the name of the person who manages recovery at let workers know what to do and who to contact if they get injured at work.
The information can be displayed electronically such as on a company website or intranet or by using the ‘If you get injured at work poster’, available to download or print through your state or territory’s safety regulator.
NOTE: you should check with your state or territory’s safety regulator if you have any concerns about the information outlined above.
This information is provided by ASOFIA as general work health and safety information. ASOFIA does not make any representation or warranty about the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material contained here or in any links to additional sources. The information herein does not replace any statutory requirements under any relevant State and Territory legislation, and you should always check with your relevant jurisdiction. Links to other websites do not constitute an endorsement of material at those sites, or any associated organisation, product or service.