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Event and Severity Definition

Event definition

A WHS Event is any accident (Near Miss Events) or event that is caused in the course of Defence work, which involves:

  • work illnesses;
  • uncontrolled fire and explosions;
  • disabling injuries;
  • serious equipment plant or property damage;
  • dangerous incidents which could have, but did not injure any person;
  • exposures to hazardous substances or circumstances;
  • minor injuries;
  • any other serious incident that could put employees or plant at risk.

This includes WHS Events for all Defence workers including ADF, APS, Cadets, and third parties (contractors or the general public). Defence Contractors may have dual reporting requirements both to the Commonwealth and to the State or Territory WHS Authority..

Severity type definition

Type Definition
Severity Definition
Fatality - (Notifiable to Comcare and reportable to Defence) WHS ACT - Section 35-36 An incident resulting in a work-related death of any person including a member of the public, a contractor or a worker, whether or not it occurred at a workplace, will be notifiable if it arises out of the conduct of the employer's undertaking. It is also notifiable if it arises out of work performed by an employee in connection with their employer's undertaking.

Serious Injury or Illness - (Notifiable to Comcare and reportable to Defence)

WHSACT - Section 35-36

Section 36 of the WHS Act sets out that a serious injury or illness of a person is an injury or illness requiring the person to have:

  • immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital
  • immediate treatment for
    • the amputation of any part of his or her body
    • a serious head injury
    • a serious eye injury
    • a serious burn;
    • the separation of his or her skin from an underlying tissue (such as de-gloving or scalping) o a spinal injury o the loss of a bodily function o serious lacerations
  • medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance
  • the following prescribed illnesses:
    • any infection to which the carrying out of work is a significant contributing factor, and the infection can be reliably attributable to carrying out work:
      • that involves providing treatment or care of 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
    • the following occupational zoonoses contracted in the course of work involving the handling or contact with animals, animal hides, skins, wool or hair, animal carcasses or animal waste products:
      • Q fever
      • Anthrax
      • Leptospirosis
      • Brucellosis
      • Hendra Virus
      • Avian influenza
      • Psittacosis

In the case of a serious injury or illness it does not matter whether a person actually received treatment, just that the injury or illness could reasonably be considered to warrant such treatment.

The Work Health and Safety Regulations (the Regulations) may include or exclude other injuries or illnesses as 'serious injuries or illnesses' for the purposes of section 36 of the WHS Act.

Dangerous Incident - (Notifiable to Comcare and reportable to Defence)

WHS ACT - Section 35-36

Section 37 of the WHS Act sets out that a dangerous incident is 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:

  • 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 pressurised substance
  • electric shock
  • the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing (not including a person)
  • the collapse, overturning, failure or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that is required to be authorised for use in accordance with the regulations
  • the collapse or partial collapse of a structure (note that this could include Telstra pits)
  • 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.

The Regulations may include or exclude other events as being ‘dangerous incidents’ for the purposes of section 37 of the WHS Act, however the Regulations are currently silent on this.

For most hazards such as plant, or a structure collapsing, a person will need to be in the immediate vicinity to be exposed to a serious risk to their health and safety.

However, some hazards such as an uncontrolled leak of a hazardous gas or a fire can travel towards a person and expose them to a serious risk to health and safety away from the original source.

A dangerous incident includes both immediate serious risks to health or safety, and also a risk from an immediate exposure to a substance which is likely to create a serious risk to health or safety in the future, for example asbestos or chemicals.

Exposure - (Reportable to Defence) Where an exposure and or potential exposure to a substance/material including workplace hazards or exposure to a traumatic event has occurred that does not result in any immediate effects, and does not fall within the Dangerous Incidents definitions for immediate or imminent exposure.
Minor Injury - (Reportable to Defence) Any minor injury that did not result in a fatality, Serious Injury or Illness or a Dangerous incident, that was a direct result of either a Defence undertaking and or occurred in a Defence controlled workplace.
Near Miss - (Reportable to Defence) An Incident where no person is injured, but could have been injured, resulting in Serious Injury or Death but where the risk to a person's health that was not immediate or imminent and the incident does not fall within the definitions of a Dangerous Incident.