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Site preservation

Has an injury, illness or dangerous incident occurred at your workplace? If so, you may be legally required to notify Comcare about what has happened and preserve the site for investigation.

What do you need to consider?

The person with management or control of a workplace at which a notifiable incident has occurred must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the site where the incident occurred is not disturbed (unless that disturbance is for a ‘prescribed reason’), until a Comcare Inspector arrives at the site, or directs otherwise (whichever is earlier). The site includes any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the notifiable incident. This duty is designed to preserve any evidence that may assist an Inspector to determine the cause of the incident.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) details the types of incidents notifiable to Comcare. Under section 38 an incident is notifiable if it arises out of the conduct of a business or undertaking and results in the death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or involves a dangerous incident. The PCBU holds the responsibility under the act to notify however the PCBU may discharge this duty by arranging for another entity or person to submit notification on their behalf such as the supervisor, manager or any other person with identified responsibility to notify (such as HR teams or WHS advisors).

Written notifications using the notification of an incident form can be faxed to 1300 305 916 or emailed to

Notification can also be made online through the Notification of Incidents occurring on or after 1 January 2012 online form.

The WHS Act imposes strict timeframes for notifying Comcare of notifiable incidents. Contact Comcare on 1300 366 979 if the incident occurs outside of Comcare’s normal operating hours and you wish to seek to disturb the incident site.

The sooner Comcare is notified, the sooner the site can be released.

Penalties apply if an individual or body corporate fails to preserve a site.

What is a prescribed reason?

A ‘prescribed reason’ can include one of the following circumstances to take action for an incident site to be disturbed:

  • to assist an injured person
  • to remove a deceased person
  • to make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further notifiable incident
  • to facilitate a police investigation
  • a Comcare Inspector has given permission—a direction that a scene may be disturbed may be given in person or by a telephone call.


If a notifiable incident occurs the person with management or control of the workplace must not disturb the incident site except for a prescribed reason.


Information Source Contents
Guide to Work Health and Safety Incident Notification   How to decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth).  Provides definitions, examples and frequently asked questions as well as detailed information on the notification process.
Notification decision flowchart Simple flow chart of the process
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 Section 39 of the Act outlines the duty to preserve incident sites.
Page last updated: 24 Oct 2014