Work Health and Safety

Incident Notification

Has a death, injury, illness or dangerous incident occurred at your beach or surf club? If so, you may be legally required to notify WorkCover NSW.

What incidents do you need to tell WorkCover about?

A notifiable incident is a serious incident or injury that arises out of the actions of surf lifesaving during the course of a surf lifesaving or surf sports activity.

It involves:

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

Examples include:

  • A swimmer in the surf is injured after being struck by an IRB which is being used to rescue a member of the public
  • A competitor in a surf sports carnival suffers a suspected serious spinal injury in an IRB or board race
  • A volunteer falls down the stairs of a surf club and suffers a serious suspected head injury

The WHS Act states that a serious injury or illness of a person means an injury or illness requiring the person to have:

  • Medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance
  • Immediate treatment as an in‐patient in a hospital
  • Immediate treatment for a serious injury or illness such as a serious head injury, serious burn or a serious spinal injury

When is an injury or illness serious?

As defined under section 36 of the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS), a serious injury or illness of a person is an injury or illness which may include such things as:

  • Immediate treatment (without delay) as an inpatient in a hospital
  • Infection to which carrying out a lifesaving duty is a significant contributing factor and the infection can be reliably attributable to carrying out duties which involve providing treatment or care of a person and contact with human blood or body substances
  • Medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance
  • Immediate treatment for amputation, head injury, eye injury, serious burn, spinal injury, loss of bodily function and serious lacerations.

How do you notify an incident?

Section 38 of the WHS Act requires a PCBU to ensure notification is made to WorkCover immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred. Notification must be by the fastest possible means, by phoning 13 10 50.

The surf club member in control at the time of a notifiable incident must ensure as far as reasonably practicable that the incident site is not disturbed. WorkCover NSW may impose s if a club fails to notify an incident or preserve a site.

Do you need to notify incidents that relate to contractors, employees and others?

Yes. Part 3 of the WHS Act makes it very clear that notifiable incidents relate to any person‐workers or otherwise.

Do you still have 24 hours to notify WorkCover of incidents other than a death?

No. The WHS Act requires a PCBU to ensure notification immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred.

How do you determine if an incident is notifiable or not? The most effective way to determine whether an incident is notifiable is by using the Incident Decision Notification Flowchart below.

Work Health and Safety Documents