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UpdatesNov 27, 2014

How to respond to a notifiable incident – 3 important steps

A safety incident has just occurred at your workplace. What happens next? This question is often asked by businesses which are in the unfortunate position of having to deal with and respond to a serious safety incident. It is important to be prepared now in case such an incident happens.

By Michael Selinger

[Ed Note: A safety incident has just occurred at your workplace. What happens next? This question is often asked by businesses which are in the unfortunate position of having to deal with and respond to a serious safety incident. It is important to be prepared now in case such an incident happens.

In today’s Health & Safety Bulletin, Michael Selinger will outline the important steps you must take immediately after a safety incident occurs, including securing the worksite and notifying the health and safety regulator of a notifiable incident.

What is a notifiable incident?

A notifiable incident is one involving a serious injury, illness or death of a worker, or a dangerous incident (also called a near miss).

A person has suffered a serious injury or illness if they require:

A dangerous incident includes:

Read on to discover what to do if any safety incidents, including one of the incidents listed above, occur in your workplace.

Until next time…]

3 important steps to take in response to a workplace incident 

Once an incident occurs at your workplace, you need to take all reasonable steps to attend to any injured workers, secure the worksite and report the incident to your health and safety regulator.

Attend to injured workers

The first critical step after an incident has occurred is usually to attend to the medical needs of anyone who has been injured. In most cases, first aiders will be able to determine if a worker’s injury is severe enough to require external medical attention.

It’s important to remember that even if a worker claims to be fine and able to continue working, it is best not to rely on the worker’s personal assessment. First aiders are trained to assess the mobility of injured workers and can give the employer a fair idea as to the seriousness of the worker’s condition.

Secure the worksite

Sometimes before attending to the injured worker it may be necessary to secure the worksite in order to avoid further risks of injury, including to the injured worker. For example, if the worker is trapped under a structure and it is not clear whether the structure will collapse, securing it might take precedence over attending to the immediate health needs of the worker.

This might not always be practicable. For example, it might not be possible to access the injured worker until the area is made safe, e.g. if there has been a chemical release into the environment. You should also be aware that in some cases, moving the structure could cause further harm to the injured person.

After taking care of any injured worker’s needs and securing the worksite, you may need to provide appropriate care and possibly counselling for other workers who might have been affected by the incident.

Report the notifiable incident

You must notify the safety regulator immediately by telephone and, if requested, also in writing within 48 hours of the incident. If you are not sure whether the incident is a ‘notifiable incident’, still notify the regulator.

The safety regulator will decide whether to send an inspector to an incident site within about one hour of being notified of the incident, and inspectors generally visit the workplace within an hour after that.

Next week I’ll explain the powers of health and safety inspectors once they are onsite, including the power to issue improvement or prohibition notices which must be complied with.

Warm regards,

Michael Selinger
Editor-in-Chief
Health & Safety Handbook

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