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What help is available when someone dies at work?

Knowing what to do, or where to turn, can be difficult when someone you work with, or someone close to you, dies. It can be especially hard when their death was sudden and unexpected at work.

We’re here to support you with information and services that can help with the changes and challenges ahead.

Free grief and trauma counselling service

For immediate help and support

If you need to talk with someone immediately, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you’re in immediate danger or need emergency assistance call 000.

For longer-term support, we offer 10 free grief and trauma counselling sessions to anyone who has been affected by a work-related death or serious health and safety incident.

To arrange counselling, call 1300 632 958 or email counselling.support@oir.qld.gov.au.

We’ll help you with a few questions and, if you agree, we’ll arrange for a counsellor to contact you—this should take less than 48 hours.

Other things that might help

When someone dies at work, their family can make a claim with WorkCover Queensland. This could include lump-sum or quarterly payments for dependants, as well as reasonable funeral costs.

Dependents (as defined by the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003) are also eligible to make a claim.

We can help you through this process if you call 1300 362 128. It’s a good idea to ask another family member or friend to be with you when you make the call.

The Caxton Legal Centre provides free legal help for bereaved families going through the coronial process.

A death in the workplace guide for family and friends tells you what to expect when someone dies in a traumatic workplace incident. It could also help people who have lost someone at work from natural causes or self-inflicted harm. It explains:

  • the roles of government agencies that may be involved
  • what investigations will happen, when and who does the investigation
  • legal processes and decisions
  • some practical matters you’ll need to manage
  • services and support that may be offered to you by other organisations.

A traumatic death at work is always investigated by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. When this happens, we’ll appoint one of our officers (an ILSO) to support the next of kin and family. In most cases, your ILSO will be available while the investigation continues.

Your ILSO can:

  • explain what the investigator does and how long it might take
  • be the contact for any formal letters or emails from the Office of Industrial Relations (OIR)
  • let you know about and help you access grief and trauma counselling
  • support you during the investigation and any court proceedings
  • help you complete a Victim Impact Statement (VIS)
  • arrange meetings with OIR and the Independent Office of the Work Health and Safety Prosecutor when they’re needed
  • let you know about the right to information process to access reports and other material
  • make sure you know how you can access information as it’s available
  • when appropriate, pass on any factual information you have that affects the investigation.

Queenslanders can apply to commemorate family members who have died as a result of a work-related incident, disease or illness on the Queensland Workers’ Memorial and Honour Roll.

Every year, throughout the world, April 28 is dedicated to Workers’ Memorial Day to remember the workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

Under the Right to Information Act 2009, a family member can apply to a government agency for access to information the agency holds about their deceased family member.

The Consultative committee for work-related fatalities and serious incidents provides advice and recommendations to the Minister about the information and support needs of people impacted by work-related deaths, serious incidents and illness. It also provides a forum where Queenslanders impacted by work-related deaths, serious incidents and illness can connect and share information.

The committee manages a Facebook page where people can connect and share information. People who’ve suffered due to a work-related death or injury can also request to join a closed Facebook group.

You can learn more about our Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Safety Advocates who’ve all experienced tragedy and loss due to incidents at work. They now share their stories with workplaces throughout Queensland.

Queensland’s safety ambassador, Shane Webcke, lost his father in a workplace accident. You can learn more about his story and the work he does to raise awareness of the importance of work health and safety.

Related links