You should be proactive in preparing for workplace incidents, as they can have a dramatic impact on your business - for example, loss of staff, decreased productivity, and repair and rehabilitation costs.
By law, you must report certain incidents such as a death, serious injury or illness to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). You may face penalties if you fail to report these events. You are also legally obligated to prepare for emergency situations, such as fire.
Preparing for workplace incidents
Develop and implement a safety management system for addressing incidents in your workplace before they happen. A safety management system combines information, resources and processes that you need to manage work health and safety.
WHSQ's Serious about Safe Business pack can help you develop your own safety management system. It includes advice on:
- achieving commitment from managers
- consulting with staff
- safe work procedures
- training and supervision
- reporting incidents
- workers' compensation and return-to-work programs.
Preparing for emergency situations
You must follow the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 to ensure you are prepared in case of fire or other emergency situations.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services offer comprehensive fire safety training and a range of other products and services for workplaces in businesses and industry.
You should also consider emergencies specific to your location, such as floods or cyclones, and implement plans for dealing with them. Learn more about preparing your business for emergencies and disasters.
Reporting and recording workplace incidents
You are legally required to report a 'notifiable' workplace incident immediately after becoming aware that it has occurred. If you fail to report a notifiable incident, you may face penalties. Notifiable incidents include:
- serious bodily injury
- work-caused illness
- dangerous events
- dangerous electrical events
- serious electrical incidents
- major accidents.
You can notify WHSQ by phoning 1300 362 128 or by using the online incident notification form.
Other 'non-notifiable' incidents don't need to be reported; however, WHSQ recommends that you record and investigate them so that you can prevent something similar from happening again.
Investigating workplace incidents
You must investigate workplace incidents, whether they are reported to WHSQ or not, and find a solution.
To investigate an incident, you need to collect information and establish facts about the incident - who was involved, what happened, where and how it happened, and why. This information will help you work out how to fix the problem. You may appoint trained safety advisors, work health and safety representatives, or committees to conduct an internal investigation and make recommendations.
Resolving and recovering from workplace incidents
Once you have completed an investigation of a workplace incident and found a solution, you should reassess work health and safety policies, procedures and systems. You may need to implement new guidelines for safe work, review staff training and change work spaces and equipment.
A workplace incident may involve workers' compensation. Under workers' compensation laws, you may be required to develop a rehabilitation return-to-work plan for an injured worker. Read more about workers' compensation.
- Read about legal obligations when training staff.