All workplace incidents should be internally reported and properly investigated to ensure steps can be taken to prevent their reoccurrence. Additionally, some incidents must be reported to the appropriate authorities.
To ensure incidents are dealt with correctly and thoroughly, seven critical steps must be followed. These will help you mitigate stress and the potential side effects of workplace incidents. We recommend ensuring everyone in the organisation undertakes Incident Reporting and Investigation Training.
Incidents include any kind of unplanned event that did or could have resulted in damage to people, the environment, property, or your company’s reputation.
Note: An incident occurs whether or not there is an injury. The two words are not interchangeable. That said, you can have both occurring. For example, a fall from a height is an incident, which resulted in an injury such as a fracture or bruising. However, an incident can happen without the consequence of an injury. For example, a worker who is almost struck by a forklift.
A near hit, also known as a near miss, is an incident that had the potential but did not result in, damage to people, environment, property and reputation.
A notifiable incident is any type of incident that has a legal reporting requirement to a Regulatory Authority such as WorkSafe, WorkCover, Workplace Health & Safety, and EPA.
Root Cause Analysis is a methodical process to evaluate and estimate the risk associated with a particular hazard. Check out our free eBook to learn more about root cause analysis.
A serious incident is one that results in death or serious injuries such as amputation, serious head, eye or spinal injury, separation of skin from tissue, electric shock, loss of bodily function, serious lacerations or exposes people to serious risk, i.e. collapse or partial collapse of a building, fire, explosion, spillage or leakage of dangerous goods, falling objects etc.
Whenever an incident occurs, appropriate and immediate action should be taken by personnel on the spot (e.g. first aid, firefighting, contain spills, etc.). This also applies to incidents that have not resulted in injuries, where immediate action should mitigate the risk to personnel.
The person directly involved in the incident, or that person’s immediate manager should raise an incident report.
Serious incidents should be immediately reported to the relevant manager as per the site emergency protocols.
In addition, responsible managers should have the authority to suspend work in the affected area or to suspend similar work, until the investigation has been completed. This is critical if there is a risk of a similar incident occurring.
Reporting of incidents to the relevant authorities should be as per the applicable statutory requirements.
The following incidents should be reported to the authorities (depending on the specific requirements in each jurisdiction):
In Victoria, for example, reportable incidents include:
In addition, this also includes (in Victoria) any incident that exposes a person in the immediate vicinity to an immediate risk to the person's health or safety through:
In some jurisdictions, there is a requirement to report not only environmental accidents, but also environmental incidents – i.e. an event or set of circumstances where there was likely to be a leak, spill or other escape of substance to the environment, either on site or with the consequences extending beyond the premises.
The details to be reported to the authorities are specified by each jurisdiction and, if required, on the special forms provided. This may include:
Any other incident that involves a risk of:
In addition to the normal statutory reporting (i.e. to the occupational health and safety authority) in jurisdictions where this is required, accidents that relate to specific work areas (e.g. accidents related to electricity), should be reported to the particular authority dealing with this area (e.g. the accident should be reported to the state’s Chief Electrical Inspector, etc.)
For the purpose of reporting and investigating, maritime incidents should include occurrences, as follows:
Notification should be by means, as required by the authority (e.g. phone, email, web-based online form, etc.). Records should be kept for at least five years (or as specifically required in each jurisdiction) of:
All incidents should be investigated. During the investigation, an analysis should be carried out to identify any WHS Management System failures. This would involve an examination of the incident along the following lines:
The objective of the investigation should be to establish the real cause(s) of the incident so that corrective action is aimed at preventing the recurrence of the event. A Corrective Action Note should be raised.
The scope and impact of the corrective action taken should be appropriate to the magnitude and potential for harm of the incident.
The cost (or potential cost) of an incident may be calculated as part of the investigation and included in the final report. This may include both direct costs and indirect costs.
Root cause analysis (RCA) should be carried out for all incidents. The objective of RCA is to identify underlying problems in systems of work or management systems.
Records of all incident notification, reporting, investigation and corrective actions should be kept. Where applicable, records should be kept for the appropriate duration, as required by legislation.
The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and requirements before making any decisions.
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