INCIDENT INVESTIGATION AND REPORTING UNDER THE NEW WHS REGULATION 2011

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The Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations stipulate that all participants conducting a business (such as a construction business) or an undertaking shall ensure (as reasonably practical) that workers and other persons are not put at risk from the work carried out by the business and the undertaking. This means the elimination and minimisation of risks to health and safety as practical as possible.

Besides the above, according to the WHS Act 2011, any construction business (or any business) has specific responsibilities such as:     Establishing, implementing, maintaining and recording an effective work health and safety management system (WHSMS) Identifying all hazards and potential risks and take reasonably practical or appropriate measures to minimise or eliminating such risks or hazards Identifying all major constructions hazards, assess the severity of the risk and develop management control plans for such major hazards Preparing an emergency plan or emergency preparedness plan and use it when there is an emergency.

In addition to the above, the WHS Act implies that sound monitoring and measurement procedures must be in place in any business (or construction business for that matter) to measure the performance of WHSMS. This is essential to evaluate whether:     The risk or hazard control measures are effective or need revision The objective and targets under WHSMS are realised Continual implementation of WHSMS Conformity with WHS regulations

The above shows that any business (or construction business) engaged in hazardous work not only has to prepare an effective WHMS but also ensure that the WHMS is really active at all times rather than confining it to a mere document. Hence, continual improvement is a norm which requires reviews, audits, incident investigation and reporting, and corrective actions. More importantly, the WHS Act says that top management shall be directly responsible for the WHSMS in any business. Incident Investigation and Preventive Action According to the WHS Act 2011, any business including top management is legally required to notify any incident (injury, illness or fatal incident) related to workplace health and safety.

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Therefore, any construction business should know how to comply with this mandatory requirement. The following procedure will explain how, when, why and what to report:

What type of Incident to be reported to WHS? The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 clearly indicate that any accident (resulting from operating a business or undertaking) leading to a death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or embraces a dangerous incident (or near misses) should be notified to WHS. When and how to assess an injury or illness is serious? The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 define the serious injury or illness of a person. For example, serious injury or illness can be:   If the injured or seriously ill person needs immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital; If the injured person needs immediate treatment for amputation of a body part, serious head injury, serious eye injury, serious burns, separation of skin (scalping), loss of bodily movements, serious cuts or lacerations; If medical care taken within 48 hours of exposure to a hazardous substance or any infections or exposure to contagious substances when carrying out work and any exposure to any other hazardous materials or diseases.

What is a dangerous incident? According to WHS Act, a dangerous incident is defined as an event (related to work place) that exposes a worker or any other person to a severe risk to his/her health and safety. In other words, the following exposures are considered to be dangerous incidents according to WHS ACT 2011:        Exposure to uncontrollable leakage, spillage or escape of hazardous substance; Exposure to uncontrollable explosion or collapse or fire; Exposure to uncontrollable emission of gas or steam; Exposure to uncontrollable leakage of a pressurised substance; Exposure to electric shock; Exposure to any fall of substance or any object from a height of any plant; Exposure to any collapse, toppling, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant which requires approval from the authorised persons stipulated in the WHS Act; 2012 © Compliance Leader (www.complianceleader.com)

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Exposure to failure or partial collapse of a structure; Exposure to subsidence or failure of an excavation or of any shoring supporting an excavation; Exposure to sudden flooding or inrush of water, mud, debris or harmful gas leaks when working in an underground or deep excavation or tunnel; Sudden failure or interruption of the main ventilation system in a tunnel or in an underground or deep excavation;

Who has to notify? According to the WHS Act 2011, top management (PCBU) who are responsible for the business (or construction business) or undertaking are required to notify immediately when a notifiable incident has occurred owing to his/her business. How to notify? Notification must be made through the best possible means available such as over the telephone or completing and submitting an online incident notification form or faxing the completed incident notification form or forwarding a PDF copy of the same form via email. Furthermore, all businesses should be aware of the arrangements made by WHS to report such incidents outside of business working hours. Is it possible to continue the work where the incident occurred? According to the WHS Act, the work place where (the site) the notifiable incident occurred has to be kept undisturbed as practical as possible until an inspector arrives. It is the responsibility of the person who has management control at the said work place or site. Also, it is important to note the site or work place should include plant, structure and any substances or other that were involved in the notifiable incident.

The extreme situations or reasons that allow disturbing an incident site are:      To help an injured person To take away a deceased person To make the site safe or to minimise the risk of triggering further notifiable incidents Something that is associated with a police investigation When an inspector or WHS has given special permission or a direction to disturb the notifiable incident;

Is it necessary to maintain a record of the incident? According to the WHS Act 2011, the person or persons operating a business or an undertaking shall keep a record of each notifiable incident. Also, it is mandatory to retain such records for a minimum of five year (5) from the date of notification to WHS. For More Information and Articles Like The One Above, Please Visit: 2012 © Compliance Leader (www.complianceleader.com)

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