In a recent case an employer was convicted for failing to notify the Department of Labour of an incident where an employee suffered serious harm at work.The employee had slipped over on a wet floor and hurt their hand. A week later a fracture was diagnosed in the wrist.

Even though there was no evidence of permanent damage the Court held that the employee had suffered a temporary severe loss of bodily function and therefore the obligation to report to OSH arose when the fracture was discovered a week after the accident.

The High Court said that the company’s failure to report was based on a genuine (but mistaken) belief and the company was therefore convicted and discharged. The Court overturned the original $5,000 fine.

The Court went on to warn that other employers should not anticipate similar leniency as they will have the opportunity to learn from the situation that this company found itself in.

If your activities are covered by the Act you must:

  1. Keep a register of all incidents where a person was or might have been harmed.
  2. Report serious harm to OSH immediately and in writing within seven days.
  3. Do not disturb the accident scene (except for safety reasons) if serious harm occurs.
  4. Provide employees with an opportunity to have input into your safety plan.

Do not ignore your obligations to report incidents of serious harm or you could find yourself with a conviction and substantial fine.