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When you Should Notify WorkSafe of an Incident and How to Do It


In certain situations, you must notify WorkSafe of an incident in the workplace. But not all events or incidents carry the requirement to notify WorkSafe. Use this guide to understand which workplace incidents must be reported and what to do when a notifiable incident or event happens at work.

What is a notifiable event?

A notifiable event is any of the following events that arise from work:

  • A death
  • A notifiable illness or injury or
  • A notifiable incident

These events must arise out of business activities and would not include a worker fainting from a non-work-related cause or an event that occurred on the way to or from work.

Notifiable events generally arise due to the condition of the work site, the way the work activity is conducted, or the way machinery, equipment or substances are used by employees.

What is a notifiable illness or injury?

Notifiable illnesses or injuries include serious injuries resulting from accidents in the workplace.

All injuries or illnesses that require (or would usually require) a person to be admitted to hospital as an inpatient for immediate treatment are notifiable.

These may include;

  • Amputations
  • Serious head injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Burns
  • Loss of consciousness, speech, movement
  • Serious lacerations
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Serious infections or diseases

For a full list of notifiable illnesses or injuries check the WorkSafe website

notify WorkSafe of an incident in the workplace

What is a notifiable incident?

A notifiable incident is an unplanned or uncontrolled incident caused by workplace activities that exposes workers or others to a serious risk arising from immediate or imminent exposure to:

  • A substance escaping, spilling, or leaking
  • An implosion, explosion or fire
  • Gas or steam escaping
  • A pressurised substance escaping
  • Electric shock (from anything that could cause a lethal shock, for example, it would not include shocks due to static electricity, from extra low voltage equipment or from defibrillators used for medical reasons)
  • The fall or release from height of any plant, substance, or thing
  • Damage to or collapse, overturning, failing or malfunctioning of any plant that is required to be authorised for use under regulations
  • The collapse or partial collapse of a structure
  • The collapse or failure of an excavation or 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
  • A collision between two vessels, a vessel capsize, or the inrush of water into a vessel

A notifiable incident may also include any other incident declared in regulation to be a notifiable incident. More information on the legislation that cover these additional situations where you must notify WorkSafe of an incident can be found here.

If employees or people in close proximity to the incident are seriously endangered or threatened the event is likely notifiable.

A notifiable incident may also include something covered in the above list which may have only resulted in minor injuries but had the potential to cause serious injury, illness or death.

What’s the purpose of notifying WorkSafe of an incident?

Serious events trigger requirements to preserve the site, notify the regulator and keep records.

What to do if you need to notify WorkSafe of an incident?

If you need to notify WorkSafe of an event that causes or has the potential to cause serious risk to anyone there are three steps to take:

1. Preserve the site
2. Notify WorkSafe
3. Keep records

Preserve the site

You must take all reasonable steps to ensure the site of a notifiable event is not disturbed until authorised by an Inspector. Exemptions to this would include helping an injured person, removal of a deceased person (by an authorized individual), to minimize additional risks or under the direction of a police official.

To ensure that the site is not disturbed the work set-up should not be changed and any plant, substances or other things involved in the event should stay where they are. You may need to suspend work in the area to ensure that the site is not disturbed although work can continue in other areas of the workplace.

Notify WorkSafe

Notify the regulator as soon as possible and give as much details as they request. You may notify the regulator by phone or by submitting a form here.

Keep records

You must keep records of notifiable events for at least five years from the date the regulator was notified about the event.

What will happen after a notification is made to WorkSafe?

WorkSafe has a range of responses to notifiable events, including conducting an investigation or inviting the duty-holder to participate in an assisted review of their health and safety system.

If you are concerned about your health and safety compliance you can find out more about our cloud-based Health & Safety management system here.

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