AEU Member Resources

WHS incidents, hazards and how to report them (DECYP)

 What is an incident or hazard?

A hazard is anything in your workplace that could cause injury or illness.

An incident can include:

  • Injuries that require first aid treatment or medical treatment
  • Injuries that result in time lost (time off work)
  • Near misses (incidents that had the potential to cause injury)
  • Psychological injury (a form of mental injury generally associated with work-related stress)

What are common incidents and hazards in schools?

Schools are complex workplaces where a range of incidents and hazards can occur due to the following sorts of risks:

  • Transmission of infections and diseases, such as COVID, cold & flu, gastro-intestinal conditions, hand, foot & mouth
    While an inherent risk of any workplace, these can also be caused by unwell students or staff attending school or the school failing to notify parents of a communicable disease onsite which results in it spreading
  • Physical injuries arising from slips, trips, falls or manual handling
    These could be caused by uneven surfaces in the playground, slippery surfaces after rain, lifting students with physical disabilities, using ladders to put up classroom displays, moving heavy items such as laptop trollies or marquees
  • Injuries arising from exposure to hazardous chemicals, materials, or environments
    These could be caused by inadequate ventilation in MDT classrooms, inadequate PPE in science labs, high noise levels in music classes, being hit by equipment in sporting activities, inappropriate clothing for the weather conditions during outdoor education activities
  • Psychosocial injuries arising from exposure to situations or incidents that impact mental health
    These could be caused by excessive workload, inadequate support with managing complex student behaviour, being directly involved in or a witness to an accident or assault, bullying or harassment by a colleague or manager
  • Injuries arising from violence and aggression
    These could be caused by being abused, threatened or assaulted by a student or parent, or being hurt trying to protect a student from an assault by another student
  • Injuries arising from fatigue, which is mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces the ability to work safely and effectively
    These could be caused by impaired decision making when using equipment at school due to a lack of sleep, or impaired decision making about student safety while on a camp due to excessively long supervision hours and a lack of staff

How do I respond in an emergency?

In an emergency call 000.

DECYP also has a Security and Emergency Management Procedures app that provides guidance on how to respond to a range of emergency situations and includes key DECYP contact details.

It is advisable for teaching staff to have the app on their phone, particularly if they are offsite with students.

The app can be searched for and downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, and your school IT technician should be able to assist with setting it up, if needed.

Each school must also have clear procedures in place for fire emergencies, lock outs and lockdowns. Staff and students should be familiar with these procedures and have regular opportunities to practice them.

How do I report a Workplace Health and Safety incident or hazard?

If you have been involved in a workplace health and safety incident or you have identified a hazard, you should immediately inform your Health and Safety Rep (HSR) to ensure any immediate safety issues are escalated appropriately. You should also inform your Principal.

It is also important to use the DECYP Safety Reporting System (SRS) to log any hazard or incident:

All staff in a school should know how to access this.

Reporting via the SRS means there is a written record that you have taken appropriate action and reported the incident or hazard. It also ensures that DECYP are aware of workplace health and safety issues in schools and it promotes accountability for addressing those issues.

Please note that there are specific policies and procedures for addressing allegations or concerns related to child sexual abuse and child safety. If you ever have a concern about these types of matters and are unsure of what to do, immediately consult with senior staff in your school.

Do incidents or hazards need to also be reported to Worksafe Tasmania?

There is a legal requirement for WorkSafe Tasmania to be notified if any of the following incidents have occurred in a workplace and the incident arises out of the conduct of the business or undertaking (that is, the conduct of your employer):

  • A death, or
  • Someone suffers a serious injury or illness, or
  • A dangerous incident, or
  • Someone contracts certain infections or occupational zoonoses

The Principal (or Acting Principal) should liaise with DECYP to make a notification where this is required.

More information about what WorkSafe consider to be a serious injury or dangerous incident can be found at: notify-worksafe

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