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Incident notification

Under the new Work, Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is required to notify WorkSafe WA of certain injuries, illnesses and incidents. This was also required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (OSH Act).

What were the previous notification requirements?

Under the OSH Act an employer or self-employed person was required to notify WorkSafe of a death, prescribed injury or disease.

  • An employer was required to notify WorkSafe if the person incurred the injury in connection with the business of the employer.
  • A self-employed person was required to notify WorkSafe where the person incurred the injury in connection with the business of the self-employed person. 

What are the new notification requirements?

Under the WHS Act a PCBU must notify WorkSafe of a notifiable incident.  A notifiable incident includes:

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

What constitutes a serious injury or illness?

A serious injury or illness is an injury or illness requiring the person to have:

  • immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital, or
  • immediate treatment for:
    • the amputation of any part of his or her body, or
    • a serious head injury, or
    • a serious eye injury, or
    • a serious burn, or
    • the separation of his or her skin from an underlying tissue (such as degloving or scalping), or
    • a spinal injury, or
    • the loss of a bodily function, or
    • serious lacerations, or
  • medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance.

A serious injury or illness that occurs in a remote location and requires the person to be transferred urgently to a medical facility for treatment.

A serious injury or illness that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the person from being able to do the person’s normal work for at least 10 days after the day on which the injury or illness occurs.

The regulations also prescribe a number of serious illnesses and infections that must be notified – see web link below ‘Types of serious illness or injury’ for further a full list).

What is a dangerous incident?

A dangerous incident involves an 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, or
  • an uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire, or
  • an uncontrolled escape of gas or steam, or
  • an uncontrolled escape of a pressurised substance, or
  • electric shock, or
  • the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing, or 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, or
  • the collapse or partial collapse of a structure, or
  • the collapse or failure of an excavation or of any shoring supporting an excavation, or
  • the inrush of water, mud or gas in workings, in an underground excavation or tunnel, or
  • the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel.

When do you need to notify?

A PCBU must ensure that WorkSafe is notified immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred by the fastest means possible. This may be by telephone or in writing and includes fax, email or other electronic means.

If notice is given by phone WorkSafe may request written notice within 48 hours.

If the PCBU does not advise WorkSafe of a notifiable incident, they may be fined of up to $55,000.

Record keeping

Records of notifiable incidents must be kept for at least 5 years from the day the notice was given to WorkSafe.

The WHS Act does not specify the form or content of the records.

Workers compensation

A workplace safety incident resulting in injury may also trigger the ability for a worker to make a workers compensation claim under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act (WC Act).

If a worker submits a workers compensation claim form and a ‘First Certificate of Capacity’ signed by their medical practitioner, the employer has 5 working days in which to submit the documentation to its insurer.

The employer is also required to provide written notice of the incident to WorkCover WA within seven days of becoming aware that a worker is suffering from a specified occupational disease.  The notice must include the name and address of the worker, and the time the disease impacted upon the worker’s ability to work.

Specified occupational diseases include, but are not limited to:

  • pneumoconiosis;
  • mesothelioma; and
  • lung cancer.

There are various other notification requirements under the WC Act, including:

  • WorkCover WA must notify WorkSafe WA of particular specified occupational diseases, including pneumoconiosis;
  • a medical practitioner must notify WorkSafe WA if they believe a patient has contracted a specified occupational disease in connection with their employment; and
  • WorkCover WA is obliged to comply with a request from WorkSafe WA for information relevant to work health and safety matters.

This reinforces the importance of advising WorkSafe WA of any notifiable incidents when they occur.

Duty to preserve incident sites

The PCBU must ensure so far as reasonably practicable that the site where the incident occurred is not disturbed until an inspector arrives or an earlier time as directed by the inspector.

To find out more, contact HIA's Contracts and Compliance team

Email us

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