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Health, safety and wellbeing incident management procedure

Version number 1.1 | Version effective 18 May 2021
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Health, safety and wellbeing incident management procedure

Audience

This procedure applies to all employees of the Department of Education (the department).

Purpose

This procedure provides the minimum standard for managing work related health, safety and wellbeing (HSW) incidents and near miss events in the department.

Overview

The incident management process includes reporting, classification, notification and recording for all HSW incidents and near miss events. It also includes specified investigation methodologies that identify the causes of incidents, the implementation of corrective and preventative actions and the dissemination of shared learnings across the department.

Responsibilities

All employees

  • Will verbally report and record all incidents and near miss events.
  • In the event of an incident or unsafe situation, will take actions that are reasonable and practical to protect their own safety and the safety of other persons.
  • Will participate in incident investigations as required and contribute to the development of corrective and preventative actions.

All contractors and others

  • Will verbally report all incidents and near miss events.
  • In the event of an incident or unsafe situation, will take actions that are reasonable and practical to protect their own safety and the safety of other persons.

Principals, managers and supervisors

  • Will ensure the effective implementation of this procedure and associated processes for reporting, recording, investigating and managing incidents including assigning employees to achieve process steps.
  • Will provide instruction and training to all employees, in regard to their responsibilities and requirements in this procedure.
  • Will provide instruction to all contractors and others in regard to their responsibilities and requirements in this procedure.
  • Will ensure incident and near miss details are recorded in MyHR WHS no later than the next business day after an incident.
  • Will ensure the workplace has access to a health and safety investigator and rehabilitation and return to work coordinator (RRTWC).
  • Will actively support injured persons and their families.
  • Will actively support injured workers to return to their substantive role as soon as medically possible. 
  • Will ensure the workloads of team-based RRTWCs are managed to facilitate early intervention of injured employees.
  • Will ensure the regulator is informed of all notifiable incidents.
  • Will ensure all incidents related to school organised activities involving international students (in Department of Education International (DEi) programs) are managed as per this procedure. For incidents outside school hours where the activity is not organised by the school, refer to the Critical incidents procedure.
  • Will review and approve investigation reports, develop and implement corrective and preventative actions and communicate as relevant.
  • Will comply with enforcement notices issued by a regulator (e.g. improvement or prohibition notices) and provide these records as per section 5 – Develop corrective and preventative actions.
  • Will report Class 1 incidents as soon as practicable to the regional director, executive director or equivalent.

Regional directors and executive directors

  • Will verbally report Class 1 incidents immediately to the Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing.
  • Will provide appropriate support and resources to the workplace as required.
  • Will ensure key learnings are shared at a regional and divisional level.

Assistant directors-general and deputy directors-general

  • Will provide appropriate support and resources to workplaces as required.
  • Appoint an (external) health and safety investigator.

Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing

  • Appoint an (external) health and safety investigator.
  • Provide state-wide data and information to support continuous improvement.

Health and safety investigator

  • Investigate health and safety incidents as per the process.

Principal contractors

  • Will notify the department representative of all incidents and near miss events as soon as possible after the event and no later than the end of the day/shift.  
  • Will inform the regulator of notifiable incidents and advise the department representative (including reference number) immediately after notification.
  • Will provide copies of all investigation reports to the department representative. 
  • Will develop and implement corrective and preventative actions in consultation with the department representative.
  • Will comply with any reasonable request from the department representative.  

Process

Process tasks may be undertaken by a variety of roles in school and corporate environments. This will depend on the size of the workplace, division of tasks and responsibilities locally and availability and practicality at the time of the incident. Schools and workplaces are to determine the most appropriate person to conduct the following tasks in the process.

1. Respond

Immediate response to a HSW incident or near miss event

Anyone in proximity to, or involved, is to:

  • Immediately cease associated activities.
  • Ensure the safety of yourself.
  • Protect others from harm if safe to do so
  • Control hazards if safe to do so (e.g. turn off power to equipment).
  • Provide first aid assistance or request medical attention if required.
  • Advise a supervisor or departmental representative.

Secure the incident scene

Where there is a potential for the incident or near miss event to be a notifiable incident ensure that the scene remains secure and undisturbed to preserve all evidence and allow an investigation to occur.

A notifiable incident may include a fatality, life threatening injury, hospitalisation or a dangerous incident or dangerous electrical event.

An incident scene may be disturbed to:

  • save life, relieve suffering or prevent injury or property damage; or
  • allow an authorised person to remove a deceased person.

The scene is to remain undisturbed until otherwise advised by the regulator or police.

2. Report, classify, notify

Report (internal reporting)

  • Verbally report all incidents and near miss events (including electrical and asbestos events) to your immediate supervisor or department representative as soon as possible after the event but no later than the end of the day/shift.
  • If the supervisor or department representative is unavailable, notify an alternate manager.
  • The supervisor or department representative is to verbally report Class 1, Class 2 and all dangerous incidents to the principal or manager immediately on becoming aware of the incident.

The principal or manager will verbally:

  • report Class 1 incidents and potential notifiable incidents immediately to the regional director, executive director or equivalent.
  • report critical incidents to the regional office in accordance with the School alerts procedure.
  • advise the RRTWC of Class 1 and Class 2 incidents to ensure that the department’s Workplace rehabilitation procedure is initiated as early as possible.

Regional directors, executive directors or equivalent will verbally report Class 1 incidents immediately to:

  • their manager
  • the Director, Organisation Safety and Wellbeing for advice to the Director-General.

Classify the incident or near miss event

Classify the incident or near miss according to the outcome of the incident and the treatment provided:

  • Class 1 – Fatality or life-threatening injury or illness
  • Class 2 – Hospital admission
  • Class 3 – Injury or illness requiring medical treatment or assessment by a medical practitioner only
  • Class 4 – Injury or illness requiring no more than first aid
  • Class 5 – Near miss or incident with no injury/illness
  • Dangerous incident

Classification information is available here: Incident classification (DoE employees only).

Notify (external reporting)

The principal or manager or principal contractor  will immediately report all ‘notifiable incidents’ defined by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) to the Health and Safety Regulator.

If you are uncertain an incident or near miss event is notifiable, please contact:

If reporting an incident or near miss event to the regulator:

  • follow any instructions provided by the regulator
  • obtain a reference number from the regulator for recording in MyHR WHS
  • if the regulator advises the incident or near miss is not reportable, record this advice, date and time.

All electric shocks and suspected shock are also to be reported to the relevant energy provider i.e. Ergon or Energex.

3. Record and review (quick assessment)

All incidents and near miss events must be recorded in MyHR WHS no later than the next business day after the incident or near miss event occurs. This includes:

  • providing accurate and concise details of the incident, including associated sub-forms
  • assigning an incident reviewer.

For all asbestos related incidents:

All workers’ compensation claims are required to have a related MyHR WHS incident record.

Review of incident and near miss reports are to be undertaken as soon as possible but no later than:

  • 48 hours – Class 1, Class 2 and all dangerous incidents; or
  • five working days – Class 3–5.

The MyHR WHS incident reviewer is to:

  • review the accuracy of the MyHR WHS incident record
  • consult with involved persons (e.g. the injured or affected employee, health and safety advisor or supervisor) to clarify details if required
  • identify incident cause/s (hazards identified) and record these details
  • record implemented/planned controls (actions) to prevent recurrence of same or similar incident.

4. Investigate

Determine the level of investigation

The incident classification determines the minimum level of investigation:

  • Class 1 – detailed investigation
  • Class 2 – standard investigation
  • Class 3 – quick assessment
  • Class 4 – quick assessment
  • Class 5 – quick assessment
  • Dangerous incident – standard investigation.

All levels of investigation will be conducted and reported in a method that clearly identifies what happened, why the incident occurred and recommendations to prevent a recurrence.

Incident investigations for all levels of investigation are to be recorded in MyHR WHS.

  • A quick assessment is completed for all incident types as the basis for further investigations.
  • A copy of the full investigation report is to be attached to the incident record or a case note referencing location in the department’s document management system (Content Manager).

Quick assessment

The quick assessment process is conducted by the MyHR WHS Incident Reviewer (see section 3).

  • Record the quick assessment findings by completing the MyHR WHS incident review screen.

Standard investigations

A standard investigation will be conducted by a health and safety investigator (internal to the workplace) nominated by the principal or manager.

  • Assistance may be sought from regional health and safety consultants to support local investigations.
  • The investigation process will be based on the department’s approved incident causal analysis methodology and report structure.
  • The standard Health and safety investigation report template is to be used to conduct the investigation and to report investigation findings.
  • An investigation report will be compiled and submitted to the principal or manager by the health and safety investigator.
  • The principal or manager is to approve the final incident investigation report.
  • All investigation screens and fields in MyHR WHS are to be completed.

Detailed investigations

A detailed investigation is to be conducted by a health and safety investigator (external to the workplace) appointed by the Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing, the Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services or delegate.

  • The principal or manager is to ensure preliminary information is collected about the incident to support the investigation process.
  • The investigation process will be based on the department’s approved incident causal analysis methodology and report structure.
  • An investigation report will be compiled and submitted to the Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing.
  • The assistant director-general, within their area of responsibility, is to approve the final incident investigation report.
  • All investigation screens and fields in MyHR WHS are to be completed.

5. Corrective and preventative actions

The investigation identifies recommendations for corrective and preventative actions to prevent re‑occurrence. The principal or manager is to:

  • review the final incident investigation report
  • consult with relevant employees and contractors in the development of corrective and preventative actions
  • identify and approve corrective and preventative actions based on hierarchy of controls.

The principal or manager is to ensure that corrective and preventative actions are recorded, tracked and reviewed through to completion. This includes:

  • assigning a person responsible for implementing the action
  • assigning specific time frames for completion, in consultation with the responsible person
  • recording the approved corrective and preventative actions in incident record in MyHR WHS
  • development of a corrective action plan if required
  • regularly reviewing the progress of implementation to ensure timely completion
  • control measures are regularly monitored to verify they are effective and to check that additional hazards have not been created as a result.

Where a principal or manager cannot approve the implementation of corrective and preventative actions (e.g. department-wide impacts), approval is to be escalated to the appropriate level of authority (e.g. regional director, assistant director general). This includes the responsibility for the recording, tracking and review of actions through to completion.

Contractor (including principal contractors) related incidents

  • Contractors are to implement corrective and preventative actions in their area of responsibility.
  • Corrective and preventative actions that require modification to department workplaces or processes must be undertaken in consultation with the department representative.

Interaction with the regulator or external enforcement agencies

  • When issued an enforcement notice by the regulator, the principal or manager is to immediately supply a copy of the enforcement notice to the:
    • Regional director (schools and regional offices) or assistant director-general (corporate work units)
    • Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing (DOSW) via HSW@qed.qld.gov.au
      • DOSW will review a notice issued by a regulator or agency and in partnership with the department HSW committee, develop programs to support strategic and operational risk management.
  • The principal or manager is to immediately request support from Legal and Administrative Law Branch (LALB) via email on (advicerequest.LEGAL@qed.qld.gov.au) regarding:
    • any request by the regulator or other enforcement to obtain documents or interview staff
    • a copy of any subpoenas, warrants or written requests for interview issued by a regulator, WHSQ Inspector or other enforcement agency.
  • The principal or manager may:
    • ask that requests by the regulator for documents be in writing
    • gather information as requested and negotiate a time for provision of the information
    • seek advice from LALB regarding provision of information
    • retain original documents.
  • Provide copies of information or respond to requests to the regulator as advised by LALB.

6. Communicate, evaluate and finalise

The principal or manager will ensure corrective actions have been reviewed no later than three months following implementation.

The principal or manager is also to confirm that all actions have been completed prior to the finalisation of the MyHR WHS incident record including: 

  • the outcomes of the investigation/risk assessment have been completed
  • any escalation requirements have been addressed
  • any HSW incident learnings have been communicated with the workplace
  • communication of incident review outcomes and learnings to relevant employees.

Incident trend analysis

Incident data is to be reviewed at all levels of the department (i.e. workplace, regional, corporate).

  • Principals, managers, regional directors and assistant directors-general are required, in consultation with the relevant HSW Committee, to:
    • conduct a quarterly analysis of the workplace’s/region’s incidents
    • use this information to identify, prioritise and manage risks (or state or regional trends).

Where regional or state wide benefits are identified, escalate control solutions to the parent HSW Committee to assist with strategic HSW performance.

To support continuous improvement, the Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing will provide:

  • HSW scorecard data for monthly review to regional business partners
  • state-wide HSW scorecard data for quarterly review to the department HSW Committee.
    • The department HSW Committee is required to review department-wide incident data obtained from Regions to inform strategic planning to manage identified HSW risks.

Recordkeeping

  • Records relating to incidents are to be recorded in MyHR WHS to comply with regulatory and department record retention requirements.

Training

  • Mandatory department induction of employees will include an overview of incident management processes in the department. 
  • Workplace (local) induction and training is to inform employees, contractors and others of local incident management processes used to support the implementation of this procedure including:
    • verbal reporting of incidents to supervisors
    • not disturbing the scene of a notifiable incident
    • incident classification, recording and review of incidents in MyHR WHS
    • investigation and corrective action processes
  • Training for health and safety investigators (DoE employees only) is to be facilitated locally.

Definitions

Term

Definition

BEMIR

Built Environment Materials Information Register (BEMIR) is an electronic environmental management system designed and managed by Department of Housing and Public Works to assist government agencies with the management of environmentally significant matters within Government controlled buildings.

Contractor

Any authorised service providers /individuals who are not direct employees of the department. Contractors include subcontractors and employees of subcontractors.

Control or Corrective/
Preventative action

An action taken to eliminate, control or minimise HSW risk so far as is reasonably practicable.

A corrective action must have an assigned responsible party, have been consulted upon with key stakeholders, have a specific solution identified and have an agreed timeframe for implementation. Actions should be regularly reviewed to ensure their effectiveness.

Critical incident

A critical incident that requires a school alert is an event that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of one or more individuals in the school community and impacts on the operation, educational program, environment and/or reputation of the school.

Dangerous incident

A dangerous incident is an incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person's health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to:

  • an uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance
  • an uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire
  • an uncontrolled escape of gas or steam
  • an uncontrolled escape of a pressurised substance
  • electric shock
  • the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing
  • the collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that is required to be authorised for use in accordance with the regulations
  • the collapse or partial collapse of a structure
  • the collapse or failure of an excavation or of any shoring supporting an excavation
  • the inrush of water, mud or gas in workings, in an underground excavation or tunnel
  • the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel
  • any other event prescribed under a regulation; but does not include an incident of a prescribed kind.

Dangerous electrical event

The Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) defines a dangerous electrical event as any of the following:

  • the coming into existence of circumstances in which a person is not electrically safe, if -
    • the circumstances involve high voltage electrical equipment; and
    • despite the coming into existence of the circumstances, the person does not receive a shock or injury;
  • the coming into existence of both of the following circumstances -
    • if a person had been at a particular place at a particular time, the person would not have been electrically safe; and
    • the person would not have been electrically safe because of circumstances involving high voltage electrical equipment;
  • an event that involves electrical equipment and in which significant property damage is caused directly by electricity or originates from electricity
  • the performance of electrical work by a person not authorised under an electrical work licence to perform the work
  • the performance of electrical work by a person if, as a result of the performance of the work, a person or property is not electrically safe
    For example: the connection of electrical equipment to a source of supply involving incorrect polarity or other incorrect connection; or
    • the performance of electrical work as a result of which an exposed wire is left in circumstances in which it can be energised by the operation of a switch or circuit breaker; or
    • the insertion of a fuse.
  • the discovery by a licensed electrical worker of electrical equipment that has not been marked as required under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld).

Department representative

The person holding overall responsibility for the health and safety of staff, students and others at a department facility. This person is also responsible for administering the Asbestos Management Plan for the department facility. In schools, the department representative is normally the Principal.

Detailed investigation

A strategy based on ICAM methodology used to undertake a highly detailed investigation of complex and serious health and safety incidents. Detailed investigations are aimed at performance improvement measures.

A detailed investigation will be undertaken by an appointed health and safety investigator.

Fatality

Injury that results, directly or indirectly, in the death of a person.

First aid

Initial response for an injury which is normally given by a first aid officer.

Hazard

An object or situation that has the potential to harm a person, the environment or cause damage to property. Hazards at work may include: noisy machinery, a moving vehicle, chemicals, electricity, working at heights, a repetitive job and violence at the workplace.

HSW investigation

The process of systematically gathering and analysing information about an incident. This is done for the purposes of identifying causes and making recommendations to prevent the incident from happening again.

In some circumstances, an investigation of Class 1 and 2, psychological injuries and dangerous incidents may also be conducted by an investigator who is external to the workplace (e.g. a regional investigator, external provider or staff member from a neighbouring school or department workplace).

Health and safety investigator

The following are considered health and safety investigators:

  • Departmental employees who have successfully completed the department’s Health and safety incident investigation workshop or online Health and Safety Incident Investigation course and who have been issued with a certificate of completion.
  • Regional senior health and safety consultants
  • Central office staff who have completed advanced investigation training (e.g. ICAM)
  • External providers engaged to conduct health and safety investigations.
  • Where assigned to detailed investigations, the investigator (regional and/or corporate staff) is to complete causal analysis investigation training specified by the Director, Organisational Safety and Wellbeing.  

Hierarchy of control

Control measures should be considered and used in this order:

  1. Elimination: remove the hazard completely from the workplace or activity.
  2. Substitution: replace a hazard with a less dangerous one (e.g. using a less hazardous chemical).
  3. Isolation: separate people from the hazard (e.g. safety barrier).
  4. Redesign: changing a work process or layout of a work area.
  5. Administration: putting rules or training in place to make a workplace safer.
  6. Personal protective equipment: protective clothing and equipment (e.g. safety glasses, hearing protection).

Hospital admission

Admission into hospital for inpatient care. This does not include treatment in accident and emergency regardless of the length of time spent there.

Incident/Health and safety incident

An unplanned event which resulted in harm to people, damage to property or loss to a process.  This includes electrical and asbestos incidents.

(see also Work related HSW incidents)

Incident reviewer (reviewer)

An assigned role in MyHR WHS that is responsible for reviewing the Incident Record for accuracy by ensuring each record screen is complete and accurately reflects the incident details and that the corresponding incident classification is accurate.

Injury

Any physical or mental damage to the body caused by exposure to a hazard.

Medical practitioner

A person registered as a medical practitioner with the Medical Board of Australia as able to practice.

Medical treatment

Harm resulting from a workplace incident requiring treatment from a qualified medical practitioner or physical therapy (e.g. physiotherapy, chiropractic, ultrasound, x-ray) where prescribed by a medical practitioner.

MyHR WHS

An online web based system used to report incidents and record incident information and management actions.

Near miss

An unplanned event that did not result in an injury or illness to people, danger to health and/or damage to property but had the potential to do so.

Notifiable incident (staff)

An incident for which a person is legally required to notify the Regulator (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland). An incident is notifiable if it arises out the conduct of a business or undertaking and results in death, serious injury or serious illness of a person or involves a dangerous incident, a dangerous electrical incident or a serious electrical incident as per the Electrical Safety Act 2002(Qld).

Notification

The act of informing the regulator immediately of a notifiable event after becoming aware that a notifiable incident arising out of the conduct of work in the workplace.

Others (see also ‘contractor’)

A person other than an employee or contractor as defined as a worker under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld), including:

  • an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work in the person’s business or undertaking
  • an outworker
  • an apprentice or traineer
  • a student gaining work experience
  • a volunteer
  • a visitor
  • a parent/carer
  • a pre-service teacher
  • a school student.

Quick assessment

A concise assessment of the facts of a health and safety incident. A quick assessment is undertaken with a view to quickly establishing:

  • key facts
  • draw conclusions about what caused the incident
  • make recommendations about corrective actions and
  • if required, identify the need for a more detailed level of investigation.

From these facts, the quick assessment should produce a verified description of the incident, including what happened, where, how and why it happened, as well as make some recommendations for corrective and/or preventative actions.

Recording/ record

Keep an account of the incident in a permanent form, specifically the MyHR WHS.

Regulator

An agency (also known as a regulator) that administers laws enshrined in legislation. Regulators are responsible for inspecting workplaces, providing advice and help and handing out notices and penalties where necessary.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is the health and safety regulator in Queensland.

Rehabilitation and return to work coordinator

RRTWC - Staff member who is appropriately qualified and nominated to assist with workplace rehabilitation and return to work for injured/ill staff.

Reporting / report

Verbally telling a supervisor/manager of a HSW incident or hazard.

Risk

The possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard.

For example, the hazard is an uneven pathway. The risk is the likelihood that a person will sustain an injury through slip/trip/fall caused by the uneven pathway.

Serious electrical incident

The Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) defines a serious electrical incident as an incident involving electrical equipment if, in the incident -

  • a person is killed by electricity
  • a person receives a shock or injury from electricity, and is treated for the shock or injury by or under the supervision of a doctor; or
  • a person receives a shock or injury from electricity at high voltage, whether or not the person is treated for the shock or injury by or under the supervision of a doctor.

Standard Investigation

HSW investigation process that involves the collection of information relating to one or all of the following areas with regard to a HSW incident:

  • Procedures and processes (management systems)
  • Environment;
  • Equipment (plant, machinery and tools),
  • People
  • Organisational culture

These elements guide the investigator to identify the conditions, actions or deficiencies in each of these areas that may have been contributing factors to the incident.

Work related heath-safety and wellbeing incident

An injury/illness is considered to be ‘work related’ or ‘work-caused’ if it occurs during the performance of duties as part of any occupational, educational, commercial or other department endorsed activity, regardless of location. It does not apply to leisure activities or other activities performed ‘out of hours’ over which the department has no control. Illness or other incident that are not work-related or are pre-existing medical conditions are not recordable for MyHR WHS. Generally, if the workplace could have reasonably done something to prevent the incident in the workplace, then it is considered work related.

Workers’ compensation

Employees who sustain work-related injuries or illness can lodge a workers' compensation claim for costs, including medical, hospital, rehabilitation, wages and lump sum payments. WorkCover Queensland assess all claims for compensation, in accordance with the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld).

Workplace

A location where work is, or is to be, performed by a worker for, or on behalf of the department. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • a school
  • an off-site excursion or work location
  • an approved flexible work location
  • an office (e.g. regional or central office site)
  • an Early Childhood and Community Engagement (ECCE) location
  • a vehicle supplied by an employer for use by a worker in the performance of work.

Legislation

Delegations/Authorisations

  • Nil

Other resources

Superseded versions

Previous seven years shown. Minor version updates not included.

1.0 Health, safety and wellbeing incident management

4.0 Health and Safety Incident Recording, Notification and Management

Review date

08 October 2021
Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC
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