Follow workplace procedures for
accidents and emergencies
Accident investigation 3
Incident notification 3
Register of injuries 5
Emergency planning 7
Fires and explosions 9
Procedure in case of fire 10
Fire extinguishers 11
Other emergencies 12
Chemical spills 12
Bomb threats 13
Occupational violence 14
Check your progress 16
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 1
Accidents are unplanned and undesired events that result in injury to people
or damage to property, and incidents are unplanned and undesired events
that have the potential to cause injury or damage.
Accidents and incidents, including ‘near misses’, can tell us a lot about the
types of risks that can arise from work activities. Whether or not injuries or
damage result from an incident, investigation of the causes can be a valuable
aid to hazard identification and risk assessment. They can also reveal
weaknesses in a system that was supposed to control the risk.
For these reasons, it is important to report incidents and keep records of
them. Some kinds of accidents, incidents and dangerous occurrences, as
well as some kinds of work health problems, should be reported to
2 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
The cause of an accident may not be obvious. Investigation may reveal
several co-incidental causes, making a chain of causation factors, none of
which would have been sufficient on its own to cause the accident. Poor
maintenance, inadequate training, poor planning or too much pressure to
meet deadlines can all contribute, as can the work environment. The aim of
the investigation is not to assign blame, but to understand the various factors
that contributed to the accident happening, with a view to preventing it from
Notification of work-related incidents to OHS authorities is a legal
requirement of both the workers compensation and occupational health and
safety legislation. In New South Wales this authority is WorkCover NSW.
The following is a list of relevant legislative provisions:
Section 44 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers
Compensation Act 1998
Clause 32 of the Workers Compensation Regulation 2003
Sections 86 and 87 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
Clauses 341, 341A, 342, 343 and 344 of the Occupational Health and
Safety Regulation 2001.
To read the above sections and other legislation in force go to the
Government of New South Wales Legislation home page at:
From 1 September 2003, work-related incidents under clause 341 are called
incidents. Previously, these incidents were called accidents and other
matters. Also from 1 September 2003, there is a new simplified incident
notification system in NSW. The types of incidents that should be reported
Serious incident involving a fatality or a serious injury or illness.
Notify WorkCover immediately by phone and the workers
compensation insurer within 48 hours.
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 3
Incident involving an injury or illness to workers, where workers
compensation is or may be payable. Notify the workers compensation
insurer within 48 hours.
Serious incident with no injury or illness, but is immediately life
threatening. Notify WorkCover immediately by phone plus notify
WorkCover within seven days to make full report using the online form or a
Incident with no injury or illness, and is not immediately life threatening.
Notify WorkCover within seven days using the online form or a printed
version. This form is available at the WorkCover website at:
These provisions include non-workers, for example visitors of customer at
When notifying, you will be asked questions about the incident. Some
information will only need to be provided when there has been a death,
injury or illness. This information is marked with an asterisk*.
name of employer
address (street address, suburb, postcode)
type of industry.
name of notifier
* Injured person details:
name of injured, ill or deceased person
residential Address (street, suburb, postcode)
date of birth
non-worker category (eg. visitor, customer).
date of incident
location of incident (location, street, suburb, postcode)
description of how incident happened
description of injury, illness or death*.
4 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
Insurers may ask for more information.
Occupiers of workplaces/employers must keep the following records about
the notification for at least five years after the notification is given:
a record of the date, time, place and nature of the incident/injury
a record of the date of notification and the way in which the
notification was given
a record of any acknowledgement given by the insurer or
These records must be made available for inspection by a WorkCover
inspector or an authorised representative of the worker. An entry in the
Register of Injuries kept under is a sufficient record of an injury to a worker
for notification purposes. The record of any acknowledgement of the notice
can also be kept as part of the Register of Injuries.
Register of injuries
Under Section 63 of the Workplace Injury Management and Workers
Compensation Act 1998, employers are required to keep a register of
injuries that is readily accessible in the workplace. The manager is
responsible for this register of injuries. The Register of Injuries a current
record of any injuries suffered by workers, whether they result in claims or
not. You should fill in the Register even if the accident is small and seems
insignificant. You may need to provide this information in case you have to
make a workers compensation claim.
Sample of the Register of Injuries
Employers can draw up their own injury register. However, it must be
reproduced in the prescribed form.
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 5
Table 1: Register of injuries logbook
Register of injuries logbook
Name of injured worker:
Industry in which worker was engaged:
Operation in which worker was engaged at time of injury:
Date of injury: Hour: am pm
Nature of injury:
Cause of injury:
(Note: Entries in this book should be made in ink.)
6 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
Employers need to establish plans and procedures to cope with fire and
other emergencies. Emergencies can result from events such as leaks or
spills, fire or explosions, mechanical failures or other incidents.
Legislation which deals with this is contained in the Occupational Health
and Safety Regulation 2001:
clause 17: Employer to provide for emergencies
clause 62: Fire and explosion – particular risk control measures.
There should be contingency plans in place to deal with the types of
emergencies that might arise. Workers should be informed about these
plans, including evacuation procedures. These plans should include:
warning, alarm and sprinkler systems
first aid facilities
available and location of emergency equipment
accessibility of lists of emergency organisations with contact details,
key personnel with their contact details and responsibilities
The purpose of an emergency plan is to:
provide written and clearly displayed procedures to be followed in
the event of emergency evacuation
give specific duties to individual staff members.
A plan should be widely displayed on noticeboards, clearly worded and
include a floor plan of the building layout. All exit locations and meeting
points should be included on the plan.
The following information should be considered when following an
emergency preparedness procedure:
recommended evacuation procedures
reporting and appropriate response procedures
first aid facilities and services
fire fighting equipment.
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 7
Look at the following office floor plan and note that it shows an employee
the quickest and safest way to exit the building.
Figure 1: This plan shows an employee the quickest and safest way
to exit the building
8 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
Fires and explosions
Three factors are needed for a fire or explosion to occur:
fuel: any solid, liquid or gas that can burn
oxygen: from the air and also from chemical reactions
heat: flames, sparks, cigarettes etc.
If you discover a fire or see/hear an explosion, remember the six steps to
1 Sound the alarm immediately.
2 Tell everyone to get clear.
3 Advise the fire brigade.
4 Fight the fire—if you have been trained to do so.
5 Evacuate the building.
6 Do not re-enter the building until the all clear has been given by the fire
For electrical fires, remember to turn off the power.
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 9
Procedure in case of fire
Here’s what to do in case of a fire.
Figure 2a: Sound the alarm Figure 2b: Tell others
Figure 2c: Advise the fire brigade Figure 2d: Fight the fire if trained to
Figure 2e: Evacuate Figure 2f: Stay clear of the building
10 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
Extinguishers are colour-coded so that you can easily identify them.
Extinguishers that contain water, for example, are colour-coded red. This is
important to know because you cannot use water to put out fires involving
live electrical equipment. You could get electrocuted.
Remember that a fire extinguisher is only the first step in fire fighting. All
small fires can quickly become big fires—and an extinguisher is no
substitute for the fire brigade.
The table below lists the main types of extinguishers, their colour codes and
their special uses.
Table 2: Main type of fire extinguishers
Extinguisher Colour Electrical Paper Fuel Gas Toxic Purpose
Water red No Yes No No No cooling
Foam blue No Yes Yes Yes No smother
CO2 red with Yes Yes Yes Yes No smother
Halon/BCF* yellow Yes Yes Yes No Yes smother
Dry chemical red with Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes smother
*Were recalled in 1995 for disposal. They should be replaced with a CO2
or dry chemical extinguishers.
Remember: after a fire, don’t put the empty extinguisher back on its rack.
This may cost someone his or her life at a later date. Arrange to have it
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 11
Other emergencies include:
1 Chemical spills
2 Bomb threats
3 Occupational violence.
Many substances used in offices may be hazardous. Users should find out
how that substance should be actually used (this may be sufficient). The
next step to take is to develop and implement any control measures required
as a result of the assessment, if warranted. In most cases, following basic
precautions outlined in the Material safety data sheet (MSDS) will be
adequate. For example, it may be necessary to wear gloves and a mask when
changing certain powder toners in printers.
To find out more about Material safety data sheets go to Western Australian
Government’s website on Consumer and employment Protection at:
The specific page for notes about Material safety data sheets is:
Reading HAZCHEM codes
When dangerous goods are stored on premises, or are transported by road or
rail, HAZCHEM codes must be displayed. These codes show:
type of hazardous substance
what to use for fire fighting or to clean up spill
any reaction risk
PPE to be worn when dealing with the incident
if evacuation is necessary.
12 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
The number in the bottom corner of the diamond represents the class of
dangerous goods. For example:
Class 2 Compressed gases (flammable, toxic, oxidising gas)
Class 3 Flammable liquids
Class 4 Flammable solids; spontaneously combustible substances; gas emitting
substances (when mixed with water)
Class 5 Oxidising agents/organic peroxide
Class 6 Toxic substances
Class 7 Radioactive substances
Class 8 Corrosive substances
Class 9 Miscellaneous dangerous goods
A bomb threat is usually received at the workplace by telephone. If
received, it is important to remain calm as the information given and replies
to questions asked by the person taking the call, could be of vital assistance
to authorities. Try to keep the caller on the telephone as long as possible. If
a telephone bomb threat is received:
Take a note of the exact time, voice characteristics (such as accent,
impediment and diction), estimation of the approximate age, boy or
girl, man or woman.
Listen for background noises, music, traffic, laughter or other
Try to find out from the caller where the bomb is located.
Question the caller as to their knowledge of your premises.
Questions to ask the caller include:
What time will it explode
Where did you put the bomb?
When did you put it there?
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 13
What does it look like?
What type of device is it?
Why are you doing this?
What is your name?
If a written or typed bomb threat is received, the note should be handled by
a minimum number of people to preserve fingerprints. It should not be
altered in any way ie not stapled or written on, but placed inside an envelope
large enough as to not fold it. Take note of date and time received, the
person who received the note and mode of delivery.
Suspected devices should not be touched, tilted or tampered with.
In Part 2, Division 3 of the NSW OHS Act 2000, it is stated that:
All persons must not:
Disrupt a workplace by creating health or safety fears.
The OHS Act protects psychological welfare as well as physical safety. It is
the responsibility of employers to ensure that personal threats of any kind
are not allowed in the workplace.
Workplace violence, harassment and bullying
Violence includes verbal and emotional threats, physical attack to an
individual’s person or property by another individual or group. The level of
fear an individual feels and the way they respond during and after a violent
act relates to their own experiences, skills and personality. Violent acts
Verbal base in person or over the phone
Threats of a sexual nature
Threats of violence
Ganging up by a group over an individual
Physical or sexual assault.
Violent behaviour can escalate from intimidating body language, to verbal
threats and physical violence.
Staff need training in how to recognise the possibility of violence occurring
and how to respond in the event of verbal and physical attack. All workplace
procedures should be geared towards preventing this occurring in the first
14 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies
WorkCover Guide 2000 Violence in the Workplace offers these practical
suggestions for controlling violence risks:
Provide a secure work environment.
Install and use physical barriers and security systems.
Remove the motivation or incentive for violence.
Ensure effective management including selecting the right people for
the job, fair employment conditions, training, employee consultation
and regular supervision.
Change the method of contact between clients and employees to a
remote service — use telephone instead of face-to-face interaction.
Limit client interaction to times when there is a safety in numbers for
Ensure that work systems and service do not provoke aggression
Deter offenders by making it known that security measures are in
Provide detection measures.
Where staff must work alone or in isolated locations, keep in contact
Ensure that workers can get to and from work in safety
Ensure that workers are not alone when dealing with potentially
Where it provides an additional, back-up safety measure that is
necessary and acceptable to employees, provide employees with
training in self-defence.
Staff training programs should cover specific violence control in your
workplace. In consultation with employees, a Workplace Violence
Prevention Policy should be developed and implemented.
Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies 15
Following workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies is a
requirement of the OHS Act 2000 and Regulations 2001. Effective
management of emergency procedures by employers ensures the safety of
employees and members of the public visiting the workplace. Workers are
required to follow emergency procedures. Employees require adequate
information and training so that they can contribute to their own safety and
the safety of others. By providing such information and training, employees
ensure they meet their legislative requirements.
Check your progress
Now you have completed this learning object, reflect on the skills you now
possess. You should be able to contribute to workplace health and safety by:
Being able to list different types of emergencies and their appropriate
Identifying legislation relating to emergencies and OHS procedures.
Following emergency/evacuation plans.
Following workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies under
Now you should try and do the Practice activities in this topic. If you’ve
already tried them, have another go and see if you can improve your
When you feel ready, try the ‘Check your progress’ activity in the Preview
section of this topic. This will help you decide if you’re ready for
16 Reading: Follow workplace procedures for accidents and emergencies