How to report a serious incident

A serious incident may still happen despite your best efforts to operate a safe workplace, and if it does then there are specific steps that you must take.

Person getting ready to make a phone call

Not only is telling us about work-related ‘notifiable incidents’ a legal requirement, but it can help us pinpoint causes and take action to prevent similar incidents. A ‘notifiable incident’ is a death, serious injury, illness or dangerous incident.

Commonly referred to as a ‘near miss’, a dangerous incident is reportable if it exposes someone to a serious health and safety threat.

A serious incident, meanwhile, is any work-related fatality or serious injury or illness and must be reported immediately, whether it involves a worker, contractor or member of the public.

In the aftermath of a serious incident, there is often confusion and people in shock but it is important that the incident scene is preserved intact – other than treating or rescuing an injured person and making the immediate area safe – until an inspector arrives or tells you otherwise.

The list of potential injuries or illnesses that qualify as serious is lengthy but a rule of thumb is any injury or condition that requires immediate professional medical treatment and admission to hospital as an in-patient.

It’s crucial no time is lost. Call us on 13 10 50. If outside normal business hours, calls are diverted to a special after-hours emergency service.

Provide a clear and detailed description of the incident to help us assess if it is notifiable. It’s possible you may be asked to submit follow-up details in writing, but you will have 48 hours to do so.

Start with a brief summary of what happened and whether it was a death, serious injury or dangerous incident, and the date and time it occurred. Establish where exactly the incident happened and, for example, what equipment, machinery or structures were involved.

Next, provide a fuller description of the incident along with the injured person’s name, date of birth, address, contact number, occupation and role within the business – and details about the business or businesses involved.

Describe the injury or illness, initial treatment and where the person has been taken for medical attention, and if any action has been taken or is planned to prevent similar incidents. You must also keep a record of the incident for at least five years.

Penalties apply for not notifying incidents. M S Glass Pty Limited failed to immediately notify SafeWork of an incident after a worker was injured. After our investigation, the local court convicted and fined MS Glass Pty Ltd $4,000. The maximum penalty for failing to notify is $50,000 for a body corporate and $10,000 for an individual.

For more information, see our customer service standard.

Back to top