The Importance of Incident Reporting and Investigations

In our busy working world there can be times where things don’t quite go the way we hoped they would, and employees may end up being injured while carrying out the work that we have engaged them to do.

It is important and necessary to report incidents as they occur. Reporting is not about attributing blame, but more about identifying possible workplace issues so they don’t happen again.

Why do we need to report Incidents?

The provision of timely and efficient first aid and medical response is crucial in caring for workers, sub-contractors and visitors in the event of an injury. Incidents can be Minor, Serious or Major but they are all “incidents” and need to be investigated to identify what happened with a view to preventing them happening again.

Employees are asked to report incidents and injuries so employers can make certain that their staff receive the correct medical treatment as soon as practicable. Fatalities have occurred from minor scratches that have gone untreated.

Additionally, timely and efficient reporting on hazards, incidents and other occurrences with actual or potential adverse risk to health and safety or damage to the environment are required to be in place so that risk assessment identifies appropriate corrective actions that can be taken.

Depending on the risk of the hazard or incident involved, immediate action must be taken to prevent further persons from being injured. This may involve the activation of emergency procedures or other actions to control the immediate risk to persons in the area, e.g. barricading the area, alerting Workers in Charge etc. If an injury has been sustained, first aid treatment should be given from a suitably qualified first aider promptly.

Why do we need to investigate Incidents?

The main reasons for investigating incidents is to try and identify the root cause/s that contributed to the incident or near miss occurring, so you have a greater opportunity to prevent the same type of incident from potentially occurring again.

Determining the facts of the incident will also assist in identifying control measures that can be put in place to prevent further re-occurrences. It is equally important to communicate the outcome of any incident investigation to the rest of your employees, as that way they are all made aware of the potential risks and of changes the business has made to a process or procedure, including the reasons behind those changes.

Any witnesses to an incident should also be identified and their details documented in case required later. Photos can be taken of the scene as soon a possible following an incident as these may assist an investigation.

Corrective actions need to be finalised, the investigation closed, and documentation kept for including reopening of long-term injury claims or legal action, which could arise a long time after the event.

Each state and territory have mandatory requirements when it comes to reporting “notifiable incidents” please see the links below for your respective legislations and the requirement.

Jurisdiction Regulator Telephone Website
NSW SafeWork NSW 13 10 50 Click here
VIC WorkSafe Victoria 1800 136 089 Click here
QLD WorkSafe Queensland 1300 369 915 Click here
SA SafeWork SA 1800 777 209 Click here
WA WorkSafe WA 1300 307 877 Click here
ACT WorkSafe ACT 02 6207 3000 Click here
TAS WorkSafe Tasmania 1300 366 322
03 6233 7657
Click here
NT NT WorkSafe 1800 019 115 Click here

The MEA Safety Team can give you advice and guidance on safety issues. Please call 1300 889 198 for more information and assistance.

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