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Responding to an incident

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

When an incident happens in the workplace, there are responsibilities to preserve the site, notify us, and update the incident notification when a change occurs.

The 'person who conducts a business or undertaking' (PCBU), who is usually the employer, has statutory obligations around incidents at work under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Duty to preserve the incident site

As a ‘person conducting the business of undertaking’ (PCBU), you need to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the site where the incident occurred is preserved until an inspector arrives or as directed by an inspector.

This is to protect evidence that may help determine the cause of the incident.

The site includes any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the notifiable incident.

Unless it is for a prescribed reason

The site of the incident must not be disturbed, except for a ‘prescribed reason’. A ‘prescribed reason’ is where you need to disturb the site to:

  • assist an injured person
  • remove a deceased person
  • make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further notifiable incident, or
  • facilitate a police investigation.

A Comcare inspector can also give permission in person or by phone.

Penalties which apply

Penalties apply if a person or PCBU fails to preserve a site, except for a prescribed reason.

If you are unsure whether an incident site needs to be preserved, call us on 1300 366 979.

Notify us of an incident

An incident is notifiable if it results from the conduct of a business or undertaking, and causes:

  • the death of a person
  • serious injury or serious illness of a person
  • a dangerous incident.

How to notify us

Ways you can notify us:

Notify us of an incident

What information to provide

Provide as much information as possible about the notifiable incident, such as:

  • sequence of events leading up to the incident
  • the activity being performed at the time of incident
  • remedial action taken to ensure the immediate health and safety of workers and other people
  • whether the activity that resulted in the incident is carried out at any other workplace or location. If so, the action taken to prevent a similar incident at those workplaces.

Who can notify and when

The 'person who conducts a business or undertaking' (PCBU), who is usually the employer, is responsible for notifications.

You can arrange for someone else to notify on your behalf. This can include:

  • a supervisor
  • a manager
  • any other person with identified responsibility to notify, such as human resources or a work health and safety adviser.

A notification must be given by the fastest possible method. It must be done as soon as you become aware that an incident arising out of the conduct of your business has occurred.

If you are in any doubt about whether an incident is notifiable, we recommend you notify us anyway to ensure that you have complied with your statutory obligations.

If the incident involves asbestos, there are specific requirements to notify of an incident involving asbestos.

Updating an incident notification

Once you have notified us of an incident, you must let us know about any additional information that changes the details of the incident.

Incident later results in death

If a notified serious injury or illness later results in death, Comcare must be advised immediately after you become aware of the change.

If this occurs, you need to submit a new incident notification form, making sure you complete the question about previous notification and provide details as required.

Incident no longer notifiable

If a notified incident is later determined to not be notifiable, you should advise us of the changed status as soon as practicable.

Email notify@comcare.gov.au with the reasons for this change.

Page last reviewed: 13 December 2019
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GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 01 Oct 2020