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WorkSafe is New Zealand’s health and safety regulator. When an accident happens in the workplace, there are a range of circumstances where you are legally obliged to notify WorkSafe. In particular, if a ‘notifiable event’ occurs at your workplace, you will need to follow the process for notifying WorkSafe. While it is sometimes straightforward to know when a notifiable event has occurred, it can sometimes be challenging.

This article sets out an overview of notifying WorkSafe in the event of an accident, including:

  • core health and safety requirements for your business; 
  • the concept of a notifiable illness or injury; and 
  • identifying a notifiable incident.

Notifying WorkSafe After an Accident

Health and safety law imposes a requirement on your business to alert WorkSafe if a serious event has happened in your workplace. As a general rule, you are best to be safe rather than sorry regarding your notification obligations to WorkSafe. Additionally, you can always ring the regulator to ask for advice on how to handle a particularly tricky or unclear situation or incident at work.

You should follow the instructions on the WorkSafe website about how precisely to notify them. The notification process will differ depending on the incident. For instance, if a worker has died at work, you should call WorkSafe as soon as possible.

In terms of what events you must notify WorkSafe about, ‘notifiable events’ in your workplace include a:

  • death;
  • notifiable illness or injury; or
  • notifiable incident.

Note that these events relate to the workplace. The notifiable incident, illness, injury or death must happen due to your business’ activities or workplace. However, they do not have to occur within a direct worksite, such as a factory. They can also occur outside a worksite. 

What Is a Notifiable Illness or Injury?

There can sometimes be confusion about when an illness or injury is notifiable. All injuries or illnesses that require (or would usually require) admission to the hospital for immediate treatment are notifiable. Therefore, you must alert WorkSafe about them. There are also other specific illnesses and injuries that are notifiable in any case, including:

  • any sort of amputation;
  • a serious head injury;
  • a serious spinal injury;
  • serious burns;
  • loss of a bodily function; and
  • serious lacerations.

You may be wondering whether the injury or illness is ‘serious’ enough to be a notifiable event or not. Note that the general guideline is if the injury requires immediate medical treatment, it is serious. 

What Is a Notifiable Incident?

It can also be difficult to know what a notifiable incident is. In short, a notifiable incident is any kind of unplanned or uncontrolled incident in a workplace. This incident can immediately or imminently expose the health and safety of workers or others to any of the following:

  • a substance escaping, spilling, or leaking;
  • an explosion or fire;
  • gas or steam escaping;
  • a pressurised substance escaping;
  • electric shocks;
  • the fall or release from height of any plant or machinery;
  • damage, failing or malfunctioning of any plant that is required to be authorised for use under regulations;
  • the collapse or partial collapse of a structure;
  • failure of an excavation or anything 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; or
  • a collision between two vessels, a vessel capsize, or the inrush of water into a vessel.

Again, if you are uncertain about whether an incident is notifiable or not, it is usually best to check with WorkSafe directly. As the experts, they will let you know your obligations regarding notification and whether you should be taking steps in the interim. 

Key Takeaways

You should notify WorkSafe whenever a notifiable event occurs at your workplace. There are a range of different situations that will cause you to be legally obliged to notify WorkSafe. This will include death, injury or illness resulting in hospitalisation. When your staff are exposed to significant danger in the workplace or have suffered harm requiring immediate medical attention, you should notify WorkSafe. 

For more information about notifying WorkSafe, contact LegalVision’s employment lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a notifiable injury?

Any serious injury requiring hospitalisation or immediate medical attention is a notifiable injury, along with specific situations such as spinal damage and any loss of bodily functions.

What is a notifiable incident?

A notifiable incident is any kind of unplanned or uncontrolled incident in a workplace. This incident exposes the health and safety of workers or others to immediate or imminent dangers, including substances escaping, fires and other serious workplace hazards.

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