Safe Work Australia recently announced that it is seeking feedback(link is external) on a range of potential options to improve the coverage and operation of the incident notification provisions in the model WHS laws(link is external).
Incident notification is a critical feature of the model WHS laws, as it alerts WHS regulators to serious workplace incidents and helps to support compliance with WHS laws to ensure the health and safety of workers and other people in the workplace.
The incident notification framework is focused on identifying specific incidents that cause serious physical harm or pose a risk of serious physical harm.
Based on the Options to improve WHS incident notification – consultation paper(link is external), Safe Work Australia is considering options to expand the framework to capture a broader range of harm and hazards(link is external).
This includes potential notification and reporting requirements for psychological injuries and illnesses, and exposures to psychosocial hazards like workplace violence, bullying and harassment.
Another option is to introduce periodic reporting (six-monthly) for certain incidents where immediate notification is not required.
“This approach would allow WHS regulators to identify both PCBUs where the prevalence of these incidents is higher and PCBUs who may fail to report, and investigate the systems the PCBU has in place to protect workers (rather than the circumstances of an individual incident),” according to the consultation paper.
There are also a range of other proposed options to address specific gaps and ambiguities in the incident notification framework and guidance materials.
“The current incident notification framework is designed to capture the most serious incidents that require immediate notification to WHS regulators,” the consultation paper said.
“It does not accommodate injuries and illnesses that may develop over time, and exposure to hazards that pose a serious risk to health and safety if repeated or frequent, but do not require immediate investigation by the WHS regulator.”