What are your duties if an accident occurs?

While most businesses in New Zealand are working hard to ensure the safety of their people in their workplace, unfortunately serious incidents can, and still do happen. If an incident occurs in your workplace, do you know exactly what to do and whether or not it is a notifiable incident?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) highlights certain types of workplace incidents that should they occur at your workplace, you must notify the Regulator. These include:

  • the death of a person;
  • a serious injury or illness, such as an amputation or concussion. (serous enough for the injured person to be admitted to hospital); or
  • a serious incident which occurred in a workplace which had the potential to seriously hurt or kill someone such as a collapsed structure or an electrocution.

Notifiable incidents relate to any person in the workplace, whether an employee, contractor or member of the public.
If a notifiable incident occurs the HSWA requires:

  • notification to Worksafe NZ on 0800 030 040 or via an online notification as soon as is reasonably practicable after becoming aware of it;
  • preservation of the incident site until an inspector arrives or directs otherwise.

Some types of work-related dangerous incidents must be notified even if no-one is injured i.e. including “Near Misses”. A dangerous incident includes both immediate serious risks to health or safety and, also a risk from an immediate exposure to a substance which is likely to create a serious risk to health or safety in the future, for example asbestos or hazardous chemicals.

New Zealand workplaces more often than not rely on multiple contractors to get work done, so when an incident occurs in a workplace with multiple PCBUs operating often these incidents involve workers from various businesses. This can cause some issues unless there is a clear understanding by all parties (PCBUs) who hold which duties in a workplace.

Ensuring notifiable accidents, incidents and events are reported to Worksafe in a timely manner, the accident scene is preserved until Worksafe give approval to release the scene and ensuring a robust investigation is undertaken to understand the reasons the incident occurred, will often be a collective responsibility for all businesses involved.

This will require all PCBUs involved to consult, co-operate and co-ordinate with each other to ensure these duties are undertaken.