Notifying injury

Work Health and Safety authorities must be notified of workplace incidents

notice-of-injury

Both employers and employees (workers) have -by law- a duty to provide, maintain and promote a safe system of work (See section on Occupational Health and Safety).

What workplace injuries need to be reported?

In the unfortunate event that a workplace or work related injury or death  occurs then the appropriate Work Health and Safety (WHS) authority (i.e. in Victoria, WorkSafe Vic) must be notified.  What are called ‘Dangerous events‘ must generally also be notified as well, even if nobody has been injured. Worplace “injuries” which require notification to the WHS authority are considered to be those injuries that incapacitate the worker for a specified time (so the injured worker has lost time as s/he won’t be able to work for a specified period of time). It is  not necessary to notify the authority in the case of a minor injury, unless it was about a case of a ‘Dangerous event’.

Why do workplace injuries need reporting to the authorities?

Work Health and Safety authorities basically need to be notified of workplace injuries (and Dangerous incidents) in order to help/assist any any investigation that may be needed into the incident(s) so that breaches of the relevant WHS Act can -potentially- be prosecuted (or, as is more often the case, the negligent employer can be slapped on the wrist!).

All Australian states and territories require that a plant or site or any other thing which is involved in a death, injury/illness must not be disturbed without the permission of an (workcover authority) inspector, unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so (i.e. necessary to save a life, relieve suffering or prevent major damage to property or injury to people).

Notification of injury requirements by state

Victoria (Vic)

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WorkSafe Vic is the Victorian WorkCover Authority and it states that notification is required if the incident is at a workplace or equipment site and results in one of the following:

  • the death of any person;
  • a person requiring medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance; or
  • a person requiring immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital; or
  • a person requiring immediate medical treatment for: the amputation of any part of his or her body;
  • a serious head injury;
  • a serious eye injury;
  • the separation of his or her skin from underlying tissue (such as degloving or scalping);
  • electric shock;
  • a spinal injury; or
  • serious lacerations; and
  • Dangerous occurrences which can seriously endanger the health and safety in the immediate vicinity.

‘Dangerous occurrences’  include:

  • collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to certain items of plant
  • implosion, explosion or fire
  • escape, spillage or leakage of substances
  • objects or substances falling from a height

Who is responsible for notifying WorkSafe Vic (The Authority?)

The employer  is responsible for notifying WorkSafe Victoria if a person is killed, injured or exposed to serious immediate risk regardless of whether that person is an employee (worker) or not.

An “Employer” means:

  • the person with management or control of the workplace (in a workplace)
  • the person with management or control of the work process (on domestic premises)

If there is no employer with overall management or control of the workplace, anyone who is self-employed has the same responsibilities as an employer with re to notifying WorkSafe vic. If there is more than one self-employed person present, each has an obligation to notify the Authority.

The ultimate legal responsibility rests with the employer, even where a staff member may have been delegated with the task of notifying WorkSafe Vic of any incident(s).

How does WorkSafe Vic need to be notified?

Notify WorkCover immediately on 13 23 60 then send an incident notification form within 48 hours.

New South Wales (NSW)

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WorkCover NSW is the Authority that must be notified immediately in the event of a serious incident to a worker or non-worker (volunteer, customer, visitor etc) at the workplace. Other incidents which are not immediately life-threatening events, but which present a risk to a worker’s health or safety must also be notified to WorkCover NSW.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) creates a duty on persons conducting a business or undertaking to notify WorkCover immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident arising out of the conduct of the business or undertaking has occurred.

Significant penalties apply to persons conducting a business or undertaking who failure to notify as prescribed (up to $10,000 for an individual or $50,000 for a corporation).

According to WorkCover NSW website (3 May 2014)

A “notifiable incident” means:

  • the death of a person, or
  • a serious injury or illness of a person, or
  • a dangerous incident.

For more information as to what constitutes a serious injury or illness or a dangerous incident, see WHS incident notification: Fact sheet.

Reporting notifiable incidents

Where a notifiable incident occurs in your workplace:

  • call WorkCover immediately on 13 10 50 as an urgent investigation may be needed and
  • notify your Scheme Agent or insurer within 48 hours.

Refer to part 3 – Incident Notification of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and clause 699 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

Note: The work health and safety legislation requires preservation of the incident site until an Inspector attends (or the inspector or regulator directs otherwise). Refer to section 39 of the WHS Act.

Who is responsible for notifying WorkCover NSW?

Whether you are an employer and/or occupier you are required by law to notify incidents to WorkCover NSW and/or your workers compensation insurer.

An occupier (of premises/workplace) is one who manages or has responsibility for a workplace or a particular operation at a workplace, even though they may not be the employer.

Other incidents involving an injury or illness where workers compensation is payable

Where other incidents involving an injury or illness to workers that are not notifiable under the WHS Act occur but where workers compensation is payable or may be payable (such as for time lost and/or medical expenses), employers should notify their Scheme Agent or insurer within 48 hours – see section 44 of the Work Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.

South Australia (SA)

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What injury/incident must be reported?

The SafeWork SA website states that any occurrence of any of the following must be reported:

  • work related death
  • injury that: requires admittance to hospital as an inpatient or is from exposure to any substance that causes acute symptoms
  • dangerous occurrence

According to WorkSafe SA, some examples of ‘dangerous occurrences’ include:

  • the collapse, overturning or failure of the load-bearing capacity of cranes, hoists or scaffolding
  • the damage to, or malfunction of, other major plant or equipment
  • the collapse of a floor, wall or ceiling of a building used as a workplace
  • an electrical short, malfunction or explosion
  • an uncontrolled explosion, fire or escape of gas, steam or other hazardous substance
  • A full list of reportable dangerous incidents is on the Notifiable Incident Report Form (PDF 193kb).

How does SafeWork SA need to be notified?

Report an injury to SafeWork SA on 1800 777 209 or visit their website to complete a Notification of Dangerous Occurrence.The Notification should be returned to:
SafeWork SA,
GPO Box 465,
ADELAIDE SA 5001.

Serious injuries or workplace fatalities should also be reported on 1800 777 209 (24 hours).

Also see Incident Notification Fact Sheet (SA)

More information can be found on the WorkSafe SA website: http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/show_page.jsp?id=2542#.U2YQh3Z7SSo

Queensland (QLD)

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What needs to be notified

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) states that an incident that arises from conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) and results in death, serious injury, serious illness or a dangerous event must be reported to Work Health and Safety Queensland as soon as the PCBU is aware of the incident occurring. The following must be notified.

Serious Injury

The following deemed serious injuries must be notified to Work Health and Safety QLD:

  • Immediate treatment as an inpatient (admitted to hospital) for:
  • Amputation of ANY body part
  • A serious head injury (including loss of consciousness and amnesia)
  • A serious eye injury – resulting in total or complete loss of vision
  • A serious burn – requiring intensive/critical care, compression garments or skin graph
  • Separation of the skin from underlying tissue – scalping or degloving
  • Spinal injury – mainly if of work for more than 4 consecutive days
  • Loss of bodily function – consciousness, movement or senses
  • Serious laceration – muscle, tendon, nerve or blood vessel damage
  • Treatment by a medical professional for exposure to a substance within 48hrs

Severe Illness

The following illnesses are notifiable if any infection is discovered and attributed to carrying out work that:

  • involves providing treatment to another persons
  • involves contact with human blood or body substances
  • involves micro-organisms (bugs)
  • involves handling or contact with animal hides, skin, wool etc.

The following diseases are notifiable:

  • Q fever
  • Anthrax
  • Leptospirosis
  • Brucellosis
  • Hendra virus
  • Avian influenza
  • Psittacosis

Dangerous Incidents

A dangerous incident under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is one that exposes a worker (or any other person) to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to:

  • uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance
  • uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire
  • uncontrolled escape of gas or steam
  • uncontrolled escape of a pressurised substance
  • electric shock that is not a serious electrical incident or a dangerous electrical event
  • 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 authorised for use in accordance with the regulations
  • 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
  • the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel.

Serious electrical incidents or dangerous electrical events are are also notifiable under the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002.

When to notify WorkCover QLD of any of the above?

Notification must be done by the quickest means possible and can be by telephone, via an online submission, fax or email to relevant parties. A ‘notifiable incident’ may relate to anyone — a worker (employee), contractor or en a evmember of the public.

Notification must also be made within 48hrs, if required by the regulator.

More information can be found on the (Government) Workplace Health and Safety QLD website.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

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Notifying an incident or dangerous occurrence

Written Notification under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
Written Notification under the Dangerous Substance Act 2004

Immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 /dangerous occurrence under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 has occurred, a person in control of a business or undertaking (PCBU) or person in control of premises respectively must ensure that WorkSafe ACT is notified of the ‘notifiable incident’/dangerous occurrence by the fastest possible means, either:

by phone – ring WorkSafe ACT on 02 6207 3000
by fax or other electronic means – fax WorkSafe ACT on 02 6205 0336; email worksafe@act.gov.au .
NOTE: within 48 hours of the initial notification, Worksafe ACT must be notified in writing of the notifiable incident /dangerous occurrence by completing the required form and forwarding it to WorkSafe ACT, GPO Box 158, Canberra City, ACT, 2601 (See below for more details).

The site of the incident must not be disturbed until a WorkSafe ACT inspector either attends the site or such earlier time as an inspector directs.

The maximum penalty for failure to comply with the notification requirements is $10,000 for an individual or $50,000 for a body corporate.

Written Notification under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Written notification of a notifiable incident must be provided within 48 hours of the initial notification using the Notifiable Incident form. Safe Work Australia’s Fact Sheet on Incident Notification provides a useful guide to incident notification.

‘notifiable incidents’ include the following:

  • the death of a person
  • a serious injury or illness of a person
  • a ‘dangerous incident’

A ‘dangerous incident’ under the WHS Act means any incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety emanating from an 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
  • 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 authorised for use in the regulations
  • 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
  • the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel or
    another event prescribed in the regulations.

Records of notifiable incidents must be kept by the PCBU for at least 5 years from the day that notice of the incident is given to WorkSafe ACT.

The maximum penalty for failure to comply with this requirement is $5,000 for an individual or $25,000 for a body corporate.

A WorkSafe ACT poster is now available regarding Incident Notification.

WorkSafe ACT Guidance Note [No. 84] is also available to assist in understanding reporting obligations.

Written Notification under the Dangerous Substance Act 2004

Reporting of a dangerous occurrence under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004 must occur if;

a person in control of premises believes there is a substantial likelihood of a dangerous occurrence happening at the premises, or
there is a dangerous occurrence as defined under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004

The Dangerous Substances Act 2004 requires that a written report of a dangerous occurrence under the Act must be provided. WorkSafe ACT requires that this written notification be given to WorkSafe ACT using the Dangerous Substances Dangerous Occurrence Report form within 48 hours of the initial notification of the dangerous occurrence.

If a dangerous occurrence which is required to be reported in accordance with the Dangerous Substances Act 2004, the reporting under that Act is taken to be adequate notice of the occurrence for the purposes of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Under the Dangerous Substances Act 2004, a dangerous occurrence means any of the following at premises used to handle a dangerous substance:

(a) an incident causing or creating a substantial risk of—

(i) death or serious harm to a person, whether at the premises or elsewhere; or

(ii) substantial damage to property or the environment, whether at the premises or elsewhere;

(b) anything declared by regulation to be a dangerous occurrence;

(c) any other incident involving a serious and immediate risk of anything mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).

Examples of incidents

  • a spill or other loss of containment of a dangerous substance
  • an uncontrolled emission of a dangerous substance
  • a fire, explosion or release of energy

Note: An example is part of the Act, is not exhaustive and may extend, but does not limit, the meaning of the provision in which it appears (see Legislation Act, s 126 and s 132).

[Source: http://www.worksafe.act.gov.au/page/view/1034]

More information can be found on the WorkSafe ACT website.

Western Australia (WA)

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Reportable accidents in WA

WorkCover WA’s website states it is a requirement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 that employers whose employees suffer certain ‘notifiable’ injuries must notify WorkSafe WA.

Mining, onshore petroleum and geothermal operations must notify the Resources Safety Division of the Department of Mines and Petroleum of any accidents and dangerous incidents.

Notifying WorkCover WA of industrial diseases

Within 7 days of knowledge that any worker is suffering from a specified occupational disease (see Schedule 3 of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981), the employer is required to write to WorkCover WA giving notice. The notice must include the name and address of the worker, and the time the disease impacted upon the worker’s ability to work.?

What does this all mean?

Basically, in WA, All occupational injuries, diseases and illnesses must be notified to the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner.

Reportable injuries

  • fracture of the skull, spine or pelvis;
  • fracture of any bone in the arm, other than in the wrists or hand; in the leg, other than a bone in the ankle or foot;
  • amputation of an arm, a hand, finger, finger joint, leg, foot, toe or toe joint;
  • loss of sight of an eye;
  • any other injury which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work for 10 days after the injury.

Reportable diseases

infectious diseases – tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, legionnaire’s disease, HIV – contracted during work involving exposure to human blood products, body secretions, excretions or other material which may be a source of infection.
occupational zoonoses – anthrax, Q fever, leptospiroses, brucellosis – contracted during work involving the handling of or contact with animals, animal hides, skins, wool, hair, carcasses or animal waste products.

How does WorkSafe WA need to be notified?

Telephone the injury report line on (08) 9327 8800 or complete and send the Notification of injury or Notification of disease form.

The form (and more information) can be found on the WorkSafe WA website.

Northern Territory (NT)

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See NT Work Health and Safety – Incident Notification Bulletin (pdf)

According to NT WorkSafe, under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011, it is a requirement to notify NT WorkSafe if certain incidents occur at the workplace.

These notifiable incidents include:

  • a death of a person; or
  • a serious injury or illness of the person; or
  • a dangerous incident.

The Bulletin Work Health and Safety Incident Notification provides further detail into what is considered a serious injury or illness and what is considered a dangerous incident under the work health and safety laws.

A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is required to contact NT WorkSafe immediately after becoming aware of a notifiable incident at their workplace.

Notification must be done by the fastest possible means by either:

calling 1800 019 115, or
filling out the Incident Notification Form, and
faxing it to 8999 5141, or
emailing it to ntworksafe@nt.gov.au

A PCBU who makes an incident notification by phone is also required to complete and submit an Incident Notification Form to NT WorkSafe. A PCBU has 48 hours from the time they notified an incident by phone to submit a completed form.

Penalties will apply to a PCBU who fails to notify an incident.

Tasmania (Tas)

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In Tasmania, the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 requires that if a person is killed or suffers serious bodily injury or illness at a workplace; or a dangerous incident occurs as a result of which a person could have been killed or could have suffered serious bodily injury or illness, then the person having control or management of the workplace must, by the quickest available means, notify an inspector ( Workplace Standards Tasmania Inspector) of particulars of the occurrence of the death, injury, illness or incident.

A ‘Serious bodily injury or illness’

Means an injury or illness that disables a person to the extent that as a consequence of that injury or illness the person is subject to a period of admission to hospital (as an in-patient).

A ‘Dangerous incident’

Means damage to any boiler or other pressure vessel, or damage to a load bearing member of any lifting machinery, scaffolding or amusement structure, being damage which endangers the health or safety of any person in the vicinity; or
an uncontrolled explosion, fire or discharge of electricity, gas or steam; or
an occurrence, including those involving any substance, involving imminent risk of explosion, fire, death, serious bodily injury or illness to any person or serious damage to any property;

Examples of a dangerous incident at a workplace includes the following:

  • an accidental explosion of gas, dust or explosive material;
  • an incident involving a high probability of severe electric shock;
  • a fire in a confined space including underground;
  • a serious fire, other than a bush fire, requiring the attention of a trained fire fighting team;
  • any interference with, or obstruction of the use of, a sole emergency egress from an area in which a person is required to work;
  • an accident or incident involving a mine winder or shaft, including a serious mine winder overwind;
  • any uncontrolled escape of high pressure oil or water;
  • the tipping over of self-propelled mobile plant;
  • an accident involving the failure of load-bearing or pressure-retaining components of registered plant;
  • any other type of incident of which an inspector has specifically requested notification.

How to notify an Inspector (Workplace Standards Tasmania Inspector)

A ‘quick means’ of notifying an Inspector  is via the Helpline – at any time of the day. (Outside office hours the Helpline number will divert your call to a duty inspector.)
The person notifying an inspector must provide the inspector with written notification of the details within 48 hours after the occurrence of the death, injury, illness or incident.

More information can be found on the WorkCover Tas website, incl. ‘What to do is a worker is injured’. Information about work health and safety can be found on the WorkSafe Tasmania website (workplace standards)

Commonwealth (Comcare)

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According to Comcare (website) if an injury, illness or dangerous incident has occurred at your workplace, you may be legally required to notify Comcare about what has happened. PCBUs are required to notify Comcare of incidents that are serious/critical and dangerous in nature, rather than less serious incidents resulting from minor incidents or near misses.

What do you need to do?

The WHS Act details the types of incidents notifiable to Comcare. Under section 35 an incident is notifiable if it arises out of the conduct of a business or undertaking and results in the death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or involves a dangerous incident. The PCBU holds the responsibility under the act to notify however the PCBU may discharge this duty by arranging for another entity or person to submit notification on their behalf such as the supervisor, manager or any other person with identified responsibility to notify (such as HR teams or WHS advisors).

Written notifications using the notification of an incident form can be faxed to 1300 305 916 or emailed to notify@comcare.gov.au

Notification can also be made online through the Notification of Incidents occurring on or after 1 January 2012 online form.

The person completing the notification form should include as much information as possible about the notifiable incident. If you are missing information and are unsure about whether to submit a written notification or wait until that information is known before submitting a notification, you should contact Comcare on 1300 366 979 to obtain advice.

The WHS Act imposes strict timeframes for notifying Comcare of notifiable incidents. If you have submitted a telephone notification to Comcare and have been instructed to also provide a written notice for that incident, you have 48 hours from the time of providing the telephone notification to do so.

Summary

Certain incidents defined by the WHS legislation are notifiable immediately to Comcare. If you are in doubt, submit a written notification with the information you have at the time.

Please visit Comcare website ‘Incident Notification‘ for more information and relevant forms.