A transport company in Queensland has been fined $5000 for not reporting a serious workplace injury more than a year after an injury which hospitalised a worker for a week.
The company pleaded guilty in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court to breaching the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in that it failed its duty to report a notifiable incident in 2018. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) was first notified of the incident in June 2019 by the injured worker. At no time, prior to or following June 2019, did the company notify WHSQ of the incident.
The magistrate said the company had by its own omission failed in its duty and that ignorance of the law was not an excuse, observing that the director was an older man who could be considered old-school.
Businesses must notify WHSQ of incidents classed as notifiable. A notifiable incident is a fatality or serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident. A serious injury or illness includes immediate treatment as an inpatient in a hospital and immediate treatment for serious injuries that can involve the spine, head, burns, the eyes, hearing, internal organs, amputation and severe cuts.
Notification is also required for any infection where work is a significant factor and may involve contact with blood or body substances or handling animals, animal hides, skins, wool or hair, animal carcasses or animal waste products.
To be notifiable, an incident must arise out of the conduct of the business or undertaking but may relate to any person, including workers, contractors or members of the public. For example: a worker with epilepsy having a seizure while at work is not notifiable, but a member of the public being seriously injured and admitted to hospital after a scaffold collapses and hits them as they are walking past a construction site is notifiable.
It is an offence if a PCBU fails to notify immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred and does not keep records of notifiable incidents for five years.
WHSQ inspectors are currently contacting Queensland businesses to monitor compliance with incident notification requirements, and WHSQ said contraventions will result in enforcement action, including notices being issued.