The first few hours following a serious safety incident
As discussed at our recent HR forum in Brisbane, the following
matters should be attended to immediately following a serious
making the site safe, which may involve shutting down all or
part of the workplace if necessary;
securing the site of the incident. The person conducting a
business or undertaking (PCBU) should prevent anyone from
interfering with the site until the PCBU has the consent of
Workplace Health & Safety Queensland (WHSQ). If possible, the
PCBU should take photos of the site without engaging in
interference. 'Site' includes any plant, substance,
structure or thing that is associated with the incident. There are
criminal penalties for interfering with the site;
immediately notifying WHSQ by the fastest means possible
(usually by telephone or email);
contacting your lawyers and, where appropriate, establishing
legal professional privilege. This should be done as soon as
possible. Legal professional privilege means that any documents
created for the purpose of obtaining legal advice or for the
purpose of the court proceedings cannot be used against the PCBU in
court proceedings unless voluntarily provided.;
notifying the next of kin of any injured worker if appropriate.
The police usually notify the next of kin when a fatality has
arranging counselling for employees, especially those who may
have witnessed or were involved in the incident;
appointing appropriately skilled personnel to be the contact
person for WHSQ, the police, the union and the media;
establishing a document and record management process and
appointing a document controller;
notifying the relevant insurers; and
considering the method and content of communications to the
workplace about the incident.
There are many things that a PCBU can do now to prepare for a
serious safety incident. This includes preparing an incident
response plan and training workers in that plan. Cooper Grace
Ward's workplace relations and safety law team can help you
with this process. Please contact Belinda Winter, our safety
expert, if you require advice or assistance in safety matters.
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2010, 2011 and 2012
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2012 (Best Brisbane Firm)
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Australian Law Firm (revenue less than $50m)
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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