It’s every trade business owner’s nightmare- a safety incident on one of your sites. 

Many questions will run through your mind.

What happened?

Is anyone hurt?

Who was at fault?

Were the correct procedures followed?

These are just a few of the questions you might have when dealing with a health and safety incident. 

They’re all valid questions as a business owner in the trade industry. 

If you’re a business owner in the trade industry, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all safety aspects are covered as part of your duty of care. 

If you don’t have documents in place to ensure the correct procedures are followed, there is a chance you could be held liable for any death or injury suffered by your staff. 

We mention this regularly in this blog, but you should be reviewing your procedures and policies at least annually and ensuring your team are aware of any changes. 

We’ve covered the importance of doing so in our New Year’s blogs, so if you’ve missed those, you can catch up here

Having your safety policies and procedures up to date can shave off valuable seconds in an emergency situation. 

It goes without saying that the most important thing is to ensure the safety of your staff, but protecting your business is also crucial. 

What Is A Dangerous Incident?

Some types of work-related dangerous incidents must be notified even if no one is injured. A dangerous incident is an incident that causes severe and immediate risks to the health or safety of your workers. 

While this is usually thought to refer to injury or death, it can also include exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos.

A list of notifiable injuries under the Work Health and Safety Act on the Safework Australia website helps discern which incidents need to be reported externally. 

The list pertains to: 

  • A potentially dangerous incident
  • Serious injury or illness
  • Death

You can view the entire incident notification information sheet from Safework Australia here

You should be aware that COVID-19 notifications follow a different procedure, so be sure to familiarise yourself with your state’s guidelines. 

So, what do you do when the worst happens?

What Steps To Take When There’s A Dangerous Incident

Before we go through the steps, it’s vital to remember that each state has its own laws and guidelines, so you must check your state regulator to ensure you’re compliant in your state. 

  1. Medical Attention

As we’ve mentioned before, you have a duty of care towards your staff, so the very first thing is to ensure that whoever is hurt is attended to medically. 

Whether first aid is being administered or emergency services are being called, ensure that this is done quickly and calmly. 

Keeping calm is vital to avoid causing panic to the injured person in an emergency. 

  1. Take Control of The Incident Site
  • Arrange rescue for any other workers that are trapped, if needed.
  • Take all necessary steps to make the area safe to ensure no one else is injured.
  • Preserve the site- ensure the site is left undisturbed until the inspector arrives. 
  1. Report All Incidents

All incidents- including near misses- should be reported internally immediately. 

Having this procedure in place encourages your staff to report incidents and ensures external notification obligations are met, as well as allowing you to seek appropriate legal advice.

It also ensures that assistance is provided as soon as possible, prevents the site from being disturbed, and assures the safety of the rest of the staff. 

Once management is aware of the incident, internal investigations can begin. 

  1. Notify The Health and Safety Regulator

According to the WHS Act, notifiable incidents must be reported to the State Health and Safety Regulator. 

The exact rules regarding timelines may vary from state to state, so please consult with the Regulator in your state. 

Notifying the regulator of the incident is crucial as not doing so can attract fines of up to $10,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation.

  1. Create A Record of The Incident

Accident and injury claims laws require that you create and keep a record of all injuries suffered by staff, so a supervisor or manager should ensure this is done accurately.  

This can be a hardcopy or digital, but keep in mind that all records need to be kept for at least five years (although this period may vary, please ensure you’re compliant with your state’s laws). 

You should also ensure that your team are aware of the policies and procedures and the importance of them being followed.

  1. Notify The Insurer

Under workers’ comp laws (which again, vary state to state), you’re obligated to report any serious injury to workers’ comp insurers within their specified timeframe (usually around 48 hours) of an incident occurring. 

As always, OHS Compliance Solutions is here to lend a helping hand with making sure your policies and procedures are compliant. 
For any queries, please contact us at [email protected].

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