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Definitions of serious harm

The following page provides information on what is classified as serious harm and the procedures in place for reporting accidents/incidents of this nature.

Accidents and injuries to be reported to the Department of Labour


The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 requires employers to notify accidents that meet the serious harm criteria to be reported to the Department of Labour.

  1. Any of the following conditions that amounts to or results in permanent loss of bodily function, or temporary severe loss of bodily function: respiratory disease, noise-induced hearing loss, neurological disease, cancer, dermatological disease, communicable disease, musculoskeletal disease, illness caused by exposure to infected material, decompression sickness, poisoning, vision impairment, chemical or hot-metal burn of eye, penetrating wound of eye, bone fracture, laceration, crushing.
  2. Amputation of body part.
  3. Burns requiring referral to a specialist registered medical practitioner or specialist outpatient clinic.
  4. Loss of consciousness from lack of oxygen.
  5. Loss of consciousness, or acute illness requiring treatment by a registered medical practitioner, from absorption, inhalation, or ingestion, of any substance.
  6. Any harm that causes the person harmed to be hospitalised for a period of 48 hours or more commencing within 7 days of the harm's occurrence.

Please note: Lacerations that result in stitches are classed as serious harm and require to be notified, even though the person may return to work the same day.

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Serious Harm Procedure – Notification


Incidents and accidents that have resulted in serious harm or potential serious harm to any person must be immediately reported to the Health Safety and Wellness Manager in order to ascertain the nature and severity of the event. The Head of Department, and Dean / Director shall be informed as soon as practicable.

Ian O’Keefe
Health, Safety and Wellness Manager
Ext: 89645
Mobile: +64 21 937 741
Email: i.okeefe@auckland.ac.nz

Such events require immediate notification to the Department of Labour (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) and no interference with the accident scene.

The Health, Safety and Wellness Manager will contact the Department of Labour to report the serious harm accident and to seek clearance of the accident scene. In their absence, the Senior Manager or nominated person of the faculty or service division will make this call.

The Department of Labour can be contacted on 0800 20 90 20.

Written notification of an accident resulting in serious harm will be compiled and sent to the Department of Labour within 7 days of the event. This form will be completed by the Health, Safety and Wellness Manager. In their absence the Senior Manager or nominated person of the faculty of service division will complete the documentation.

Accident/Incident Investigation form.

Students/Visitors/Honorary Staff members

The University of Auckland will notify the Department of Labour of every occurrence of serious harm that occurs to a student/visitor/honorary staff member while at a University of Auckland campus, a University of Auckland controlled entity, or whilst undertaking any University-sanctioned activity.

The manager/supervisor/host responsible for such persons or specific work area will immediately report such occurrences to the Health, Safety and Wellness Manager.

Notification Procedure for Contractors  - The University's Role

Self-employed Contractors

The University of Auckland will notify the Department of Labour of every occurrence of serious harm that occurs to a self-employed contractor engaged and contracted by The University of Auckland while undertaking work at a University of Auckland campus, a University of Auckland controlled entity, or whilst undertaking any University-sanctioned activity.

The manager responsible for the self-employed contractor will immediately report such occurrences to the Health, Safety and Wellness Manager.

Reporting Serious Harm for employee's of Contractors

In the event that an employee of a contractor suffers an accident resulting in serious harm while undertaking work for the University of Auckland, it is the legal responsibilty of that contractor to notify the Department of Labour and seek a scene clearance. The University of Aucklands role is to ensure that the contractor has undertaken this notification and to assist with preserving the accident scene and providing any reasonable support to protect people, vital utilities, property and assistance with Dept of Labour investigations.

The university  manager responsible for the contractor / project will immediately report such occurrences to the Health, Safety and Wellness Manager.

 

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No interference to the accident scene


Accidents that result in serious harm to a person require notification to the Department of Labour by phone or fax as soon as possible. The investigating authority (Health and Safety Inspector at the Department of Labour) when informed will advise what needs to be done, and whether or not the accident scene can be cleared. Verification of the clearance must be noted by the University manager reporting the event. Remember to note the Inspector’s name and the time, date and a brief summary of their instructions.

Instances when the accident scene must definitely not be interfered with:

  • where a machine has contributed to a serious harm injury to an individual, do not alter controls, set ups or guarding
  • where there has been a death
  • where a person has fallen from a ladder, scaffold or any work at heights
  • injury or illness that requires hospitalisation.

Accident scenes can be altered for the following explicit conditions:

  • to save the life of, prevent harm to, or relieve the suffering of, any person
  • to maintain the access of the general public to an essential service or utility (such as water, electricity or gas)
  • to prevent serious damage to or serious loss of property.

As some accidents or serious harm injuries, illnesses or diseases do not involve an accident scene as such, the event must be notified in writing on the prescribed form within 7 days of the event.

Instances when this would occur:

  • when a medical practitioner has diagnosed a gradual process injury, infectious disease or illness, eg, noise induced hearing loss, occupational overuse syndrome, neurological or communicable disease.
     
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Serious Harm Notification Form
(84.0 kB, MSWORD)
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Maritime Accidents resulting in serious harm injury


All accidents resulting in serious harm to any person while operating on or around a vessel/boat must be reported to Maritime NZ as soon as practicable after the event. This means after you have secured the safety of people, your boat and the environment, and when you have communication available.

The owner or skipper of the vessel must report this to Maritime NZ and complete the required documentation.

The University Health, Safety and Wellness Manager shall be informed.

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Contacting investigating authorities


For accidents that result in serious harm you can contact the:

Department of Labour 0800 20 90 20 (24 hours/7 days a week)

Maritime NZ 0508 472 269 (24 hours)

Energy Safety Service 0800 10 44 77 (Electrical & Gas Accidents)

Note: all accidents resulting in serious harm should be reported to the Department of Labour.

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Legislative Requirements


Various government agencies have certain accident notification requirements as set down by legislation. These dictate what we must record and report for various accidents, illnesses, diseases or near misses.

Detailed below is the key legislation, government agencies that require notification, and records of various incidents.

Key legislation:

  • Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, sections 25 and 26
    • S.25 recording and notification of accidents and serious harm
    • S.26 no interference at accident scene.
  • Electricity Safety Regulations 2010, section 16.
  • Gas (Safety & Measurement) Regulation 2010, section 17.

Government agencies:

  • Department of Labour (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment)
  • Workplace Health and Safety Service
  • Maritime Safety Authority
  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • Energy Safety Service.
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Definitions


Accident

In terms of the Health and Safety in Employment Act this can have quite a wide meaning.

"Accident" means an event that:

  1. causes any person to be harmed
  2. in different circumstances, might have caused any person to be harmed
  3. where a person’s injury has resulted in harm or serious harm.

Please note: occupational disease and illness are included in this criteria.

Incident

Where someone has seen, been involved, or had occur to them a near miss.

  • Such events would be slipping on a floor, which resulted in no fall or injury, or suffering a burn from cooking fats which only required minor first aid and no medical treatment from a doctor.
  • Verbal abuse by someone or a minor chemical spill that caused no injury however evacuated a lab.
  • Minor electrical shock.
  • Fire incidents that resulted in no evacuation.
  • Where someone has noticed or is experiencing discomfort or pain when using their computer or undertaking repetitive tasks.

Harm

  1. Means illness, injury, or both and
  2. includes physical or mental harm caused by work-related stress.

Hazard

  1. means an activity, arrangement, circumstance, event, occurrence, phenomenon, process, situation, or substance (whether arising or caused within or outside a place of work) that is an actual or potential cause or source of harm and
  2. includes:
    1. a situation where a person’s behaviour may be an actual, potential cause or source of harm to the person or another person and
    2. without limitation, a situation described in the above subparagraph resulting from physical or mental fatigue, drugs, alcohol, traumatic shock or another temporary condition that affects a person’s behaviour.

Significant Hazard

Means a hazard that is an actual or potential cause or source of:

  1. serious harm or
  2. harm (being harm that is more than trivial) where the severity of effects on any person depend (entirely or among other things) on the extent or frequency of the person’s exposure to the hazard or
  3. harm that does not usually occur, or usually is not easily detectable, until a significant time after exposure to the hazard.
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