A work-related death, serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident must be notified to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland immediately. Notifiable incidents could involve hospitalisation or require immediate attention for serious injuries, burns, lacerations, eye damage, spinal damage, amputation or degloving, or loss of bodily function.
Immediate treatment means the kind of urgent treatment needed for a serious injury or illness and includes treatment by a registered medical practitioner or nurse, or a paramedic.
Incidents which don’t require notification could be minor cuts and bruises; a burn that only requires washing the wound, ice pack and applying a dressing; muscle strain; eye irritation; headaches, or hospital outpatient treatment.
Notification is also required for serious illnesses, including any infection where the work is a significant contributing factor, such as zoonotic diseases contracted while handling animals, animal hides, skins, wool or hair, animal carcasses or animal waste products.
Some types of work-related dangerous incidents must be notified even if no-one is injured. These are near miss incidents that could have exposed a worker to a serious risk, such as the collapse of a scaffold at night, an uncontrolled explosion or fire where no one is hurt, the collapse or failure of an excavation or the shoring supporting an excavation where no one is hurt, as well as the rollover of registrable plant.
Examples of a serious injury
- When unhooking crane lifting straps a worker falls to the ground hitting their head causing a fractured skull and rib injuries. Whether the worker is admitted to hospital or not, this is notifiable as a serious injury requiring immediate treatment for a serious head injury.
- A circular saw operator severs a finger and is treated at the emergency department but is not admitted to hospital. This is notifiable as a serious injury requiring immediate treatment for an amputation.
- A worker fell from a ladder and suffers a deep laceration exposing bone, tendons and muscle, requiring 30 stitches at the emergency department. While not admitted to hospital this is notifiable as a serious injury requiring immediate treatment for a serious laceration.
- A residential care cleaner using hazardous chemicals sprays some on their eye causing a serious injury likely to result in partial vision loss. The worker receives treatment at the emergency department but is not admitted to hospital. Again, this is notifiable, requiring immediate treatment.
- A worker sustains a severe spinal disc injury while pushing a full industrial bin up an incline and receives immediate treatment at a medical centre and is unable to work for four weeks. This is a serious injury requiring immediate treatment for a spinal injury.
It is an offence to fail to notify immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred – and records need to be kept of these incidents for five years. Work health and safety inspectors are currently auditing businesses for compliance with incident notification requirements and contraventions will result in enforcement action, including notices being issued.
Read more on why and when workplaces need to notify, what steps to take with emergency services, how to notify, and what to do with regard to workers compensation.