Notifiable Incidents and COVID-19

Public news

Most members would be aware that you must notify SafeWork SA or NT WorkSafe of certain incidents that occur in the workplace, but how does that relate to COVID-19?

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must notify the regulator of fatalities and certain serious injuries/illnesses or dangerous incidents that occur at work as a result of the conduct of the business or undertaking. Incidents may relate to anyone at a workplace such as a worker, contractor or member of the public.

A serious injury or illness of a person includes:

  • immediate treatment as an in-patient in hospital for any duration, even if the stay is not overnight or longer
  • immediate treatment for:
    • amputation of any body part
    • serious head, eye or burn injury
    • degloving or scalping
    • spinal injury
    • loss of bodily function
    • serious lacerations
  • medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance.

Certain serious illnesses are also required to be reported.

A dangerous incident means 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:

  • uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance
  • uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire
  • uncontrolled escape of gas, steam or a pressurised substance
  • electric shock
  • fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing
  • collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that requires authorisation for use
  • collapse or partial collapse of a structure
  • collapse or failure of an excavation or any shoring supporting an excavation
  • inrush of water, mud or gas in workings, an underground excavation or tunnel
  • interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel
  • unplanned loss of control of heavy earthmoving machinery, including brake or steering failure, at a mine.

Notification of a COVID-19 virus case is required if it can be reliably attributed to a workplace exposure and it results in either:

  • the person is required to have treatment as an in-patient in hospital; or
  • death.

It is an offence to fail to report a notifiable incident.

While anyone at a workplace can report a notifiable incident, the PCBU is legally obligated to do so, as soon as practicable after having become aware of the incident.

In South Australia, report a notifiable incident to SafeWork SA:

For life threatening issues or a death

  • call 1800 777 209 (statewide – 24 hours)

For non-life threatening injuries/issues

In the Northern Territory, report a notifiable incident to NT WorkSafe by:

As well as reporting to the regulator, contact the WR team for advice and assistance on how to deal with the investigation and any worker’s compensation claims. If you have any questions about WH&S issues, or need an audit or inspection to ensure compliance, contact the WR team on (08) 8291 2000 or at