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  4. What are Notifiable Incidents and what do you need to do?

What are Notifiable Incidents and what do you need to do?

Construction worker has an accident while working on new house.

Under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011, Businesses and Undertakings must notify their work health and safety regulator (SafeWork NSW) of certain ‘notifiable incidents’ at work.
The WHS law requires the Person in Control of the Business or Undertaking (PCBU):

  • To notify SafeWork NSW immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred
  • Notification should be by the fastest means possible (this could be by phone or in writing by email or online)
  • If notification is by phone and SafeWork NSW asks, written notification must be provided within 48 hours of the request
  • To preserve the incident site until an inspector arrives or is directed otherwise (subject to some exceptions)
  • Maintain records for a least five (5) Years

Failing to report a ‘notifiable incident is an offence and penalties apply

Duty to notify of notifiable incidents
Failure to Notify – Penalty Units ($107.47/ unit – 2023, indexed yearly)
Maximum penalty–
(a) in the case of an individual (Builder) -115 penalty units ($12,359), or
(b) in the case of a body corporate (PCBU) -575 penalty units ($61,795)

A ‘notifiable incident’ is:

  • The death of a person
  • A serious injury or illness
  • A dangerous situation

arising out of the conduct of a business or undertaking at a workplace. ‘Notifiable incidents’ may relate to any person – whether an employee, contractor, or member of the public.

Serious injury or illness

Only the most serious health or safety incidents are notifiable, and only if they are work-related.
A serious injury or illness must be notified if the person requires any of the types of treatment outlined in the table below:

Notifiable Serious Injuries
Types of Treatment Example
Immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital Admission into a hospital as an in-patient for any duration, even if the stay is not overnight or longer.

It does not include:

–   Outpatient treatment provided by the emergency section of a hospital (i.e. not requiring admission as an in-patient).

–   Admission for corrective surgery which does not immediately follow the injury (e.g. to fix a fractured nose).

Immediate treatment for the amputation of any part of the body Amputation of a limb such as an arm or leg, or body part such as a hand, foot, or tip of a finger, toe, nose, or ear.
Immediate treatment for a serious head injury –   Fractured skull, loss of consciousness, blood clot or bleeding in the brain, damage to the skull to the extent that it is likely to affect organ/face function

–   Head injuries resulting in temporary or permanent amnesia

It does not include:

A bump to the head resulting in a minor contusion or headache.

Immediate treatment for a serious eye injury –   Injury that results in or is likely to result in the loss of the eye or total or partial loss of vision.

–   Injury that involves an object penetrating the eye (e.g. metal fragment, wood chip)

–   Exposure of the eye to a substance that poses a risk of serious eye damage

It does not include:

Eye exposure to a substance that merely causes irritation

Immediate treatment for a serious burn A burn requiring intensive care or critical care which could require a compression garment or a skin graft.

It does not include:

A burn that merely requires washing the wound and applying a dressing.

Immediate treatment for the separation of skin from an underlying tissue (such as de-gloving or scalping) Separation of skin from an underlying tissue such that tendon, bone, or muscle are exposed (e.g. de-gloving or scalping)

It does not include:

Minor lacerations

Immediate treatment or a spinal injury Injury to the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacral vertebrae including the discs and spinal cord.

It does not include:

Acute back strain

Immediate treatment for the loss of a bodily function Loss of consciousness, loss of movement of a limb or loss of the sense of smell, taste, sight or hearing, or loss of function of an internal organ.

It does not include:

–    Fainting

–    A sprain or a strain

Immediate treatment for serious lacerations –   Deep or extensive cuts that cause muscle, tendon, nerve or blood vessel damage or permanent impairment.

–   Deep puncture wounds.

–   Tears of wounds to flesh or tissues- this may include stitching to prevent loss of blood and/or other treatment to prevent loss of bodily function and/or infection

Medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance ‘Medical treatment’ is treatment provided by a doctor.

Exposure to a substance includes exposure to chemicals, airborne contaminants, and exposure to human and/or animal blood and body substances.

Notifiable Serious Illnesses
Illness Example
Any infection where the work is a significant contributing factor This includes any infection related to carrying out work:

–   With micro-organisms

–   That involves providing treatment or care to a person

–   That involves contact with human blood or body substances

–   That involves handling or contact with animals, animal hides, skins, wool or hair, animal carcasses, or animal waste products.


Occupational zoonoses contracted in the course of work involving handling or contact with animals, animal hides, skin, wool or hair, animal carcasses or animal waste products –   Q fever

–   Anthrax

–   Leptospirosis

–   Brucellosis

–   Hendra Virus

–   Avian Influenza

–   Psittacosis

Dangerous Incidents including ‘near misses’

Some types of work-related dangerous incidents must be notified even if no one is injured.
SafeWork NSW must be notified of any incident in relation to a workplace that exposes any person to a serious risk resulting from 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 pressurized substance
  • The fall or release from height of any plant, substance, or thing
  • The collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to any plant that is required to be design or item registered under the Work Health and Safety Regulations e.g. a collapsing crane
  • 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
  • Electric Shock.

Examples of electric shock that are notifiable include:

  • Minor shock resulting from direct contact with exposed live electrical parts (other than extra low voltage) including shock from capacitive discharge

Examples of electric shock that are not notifiable include:

  • Shock due to static electricity
  • Extra low voltage shock (i.e. arising from electrical equipment less than or equal to 50 V AC and less than or equal to 120V DC)
  • Defibrillators used deliberately to shock a person for first aid or medical reasons

Not sure if it’s a notifiable incident?

If you are unsure about whether a work-place incident should be notified, then contact SafeWork NSW for advice or further guidance.

SafeWork NSW



What if the incident involves multiple businesses or undertakings?

If a notifiable incident occurs that involves more than one business or undertaking, then each business or undertaking must ensure that the incident has been notified to SafeWork NSW.

Site Preservation at the incident site

Requirements to preserve a site for a notifiable incident only apply to the area where the incident occurred, not the whole worksite. If you are unsure what you need to do check with SafeWork NSW.
The incident site must not be disturbed until an inspector arrives at the site or directs otherwise. Any evidence that may assist an inspector to determine the cause of the incident must be preserved – including plant, substance, structure, or thing associated with the incident.
Preservation of the site does not however prevent the following actions:

  • Assisting an injured person
  • Removing a deceased person
  • Making the site safe or minimizing the risk of a further notifiable incident
  • Facilitating a police investigation

Penalties apply if an individual or body corporate fails to preserve a site.

What information will be required when reporting a notifiable incident?

SafeWork NSW will require you to provide as much detail as possible This will help then decide if the incident is, in fact, notifiable and whether there will be a need for a follow-up incident investigation. The following information is usually asked when reporting an incident:

What happened?


–   Provide an overview of what happened

–   Nominate the type of notifiable incident – was it a death, serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident

When did it happen? Date and time of the incident
Where did it happen? Incident address

Provide details of the specific location e.g. section of the warehouse or the particular piece of equipment that the incident involved

What happened?


Detailed description of the incident
Who did it happen to? –   Injured person’s name, date of birth, address, and contact number

–   Injured person’s occupation

–   Relationship of the injured person to the entity notifying

How and where are they being treated?

(if applicable)

–   Description of serious injury or illness i.e. nature of injury

–   Initial treatment

–   Where the patient has been taken for treatment

Who is the PCBU?

(there may be more than one)

–   Legal and trading name

–   Business address (if different from the incident address), ABN/CAN and contact details including phone number and email

What has/is being done? Action taken or intended to be taken to prevent recurrence (if any)
Who is notifying –   Notifier’s name, contact phone number, and position at the workplace

–   Name, phone number, and position of the person to contact for further information

Objectives on an Incident Investigation

Incident investigations are not focused on blame.
The primary objective of an incident investigation is to identify all of the factors that contributed to the incident. The secondary objectives are to:

  • Provide recommendations to improve site safety and WHS systems
  • Prevent the incident from happening again
  • Assist in insurance claims
  • Ensure compliance with legislation

I have a Master Builders Apprentice or Trainee on my site

Where a Master Builders Apprentice or Trainee is involved in a workplace incident, you must report the incident to Master Builders immediately after becoming aware of the incident or as soon as is reasonably practical– this is regardless of whether the incident is a SafeWork Notifiable incident.
Please contact your assigned Field Officer, or contact the Master Builders Office on 02 8586 3533 or email apprenticeship@mbansw.asn.au

Some other useful tips on your safety obligations

  • Construction sites require one first aider for every 25 workers
  • Construction sites require an Emergency Plan and rescue plans for High-Risk work – communicated/ trained to all workers
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This document outlines the direct debit arrangements between Master Builders Association of NSW Pty Ltd, ABN 11 074 397 532 (MBANSW) and you.

MBANSW is the registered Group Training Organisation and Apprenticeship Services arm of Master Builders Association of New South Wales, ABN 96 550 042 906 (Master Builders)

“You”, “your” and “Host Employer” refer to you, your company and business nominated in the table below.

This document outlines the direct debit arrangements between MBANSW and you.

Direct Debit Terms and Conditions

  • Your nominated account or credit card will be debited weekly for hosting a MBAS or MBAS+ apprentice or trainee.
  • The first debit to your account will occur within 7 working days of the MBAS or MBAS+ apprentice or trainee commencing their placement with your business.
  • If an invoice payment is due on a non-business day, it will be debited from your account on the following business day.
  • Host Employer account information held by MBANSW will be kept confidential. Please note that some information is provided to the MBANSW financial institution to initiate the debit to your nominated account.
  • MBANSW will give you a minimum of 14 days’ notice in writing of changes to these Terms and Conditions.
  • If you wish to make changes to this arrangement, please contact MBANSW on (02) 8586 3533.

Your responsibility in this arrangement

  • Ensure that your nominated account can accept direct debits (your financial institution can confirm this).
  • Ensure there are sufficient cleared funds in the nominated account on the drawing date.
  • Advise MBANSW in writing if the nominated account is transferred or closed.

Please note that if your payment is dishonoured by your financial institution, a re-draw will take place within 7 days.

Any transaction fees payable by MBANSW in respect to a dishonoured payment will be added to your account.


Please direct all enquiries to MBAS (02) 8586 3533 or apprenticeship@mbansw.asn.au;

Please include your phone and email address.

I/We authorise MBANSW to arrange for funds to be debited from my/our nominated account at the financial institution identified below.

This authority to direct debit will remain in place in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.