• SusiR
    Kia ora, our contractor managers are being asked for definitions of incidents and near misses. We all know what they are... right? Worksafe NZ and the HSWA refers to notifiable events, incidents, and injuries - but not simply 'incidents'.

    Based on the definition for 'notifiable incident', would you agree with:

    Incident - unplanned or uncontrolled incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a (omit serious) risk to that person’s health or safety

    Near miss - unplanned or uncontrolled incident in relation to a workplace that had the potential to expose a worker or any other person to a risk to that person’s health or safety

    Serious harm - as per notifiable event

    Or is there listed somewhere a guide or reference set of definitions? I know, square one, but we want to all be at the same square...!

    Thanks all :)
  • KeithH
    As you have guessed, there are no guides or reference definitions. These items are usually set by businesses to suit their individual requirements, are lag indicators and effectively have little relevance.
    Greg Smith of Wayland Legal wrote an article about the relevance of lag indicators - Everything is Green: The delusion of health and safety reporting - that quotes the Pike River Royal Commission in the second paragraph. This is well worth the 10 minute read.

    I find that management usually request non-notifiable incident, non-notifiable event and near miss reporting so they can make themselves look good to receive bonuses.

    That said, my questions when asked about non-notifiable incidents, non-notifiable events and near miss reporting is:
    • Who needs the data
    • Why is the data needed
    • Who will supply the data
    • Have those supplying the data been engaged
    • Where and when will the data be displayed
    • Who will use the data
    • How will the data relate to acute injury or occupation illness
    • How will the data improve safety
    The questions and answers usually create an uncomfortable atmosphere.

    IMHO non-notifiable incidents, non-notifiable events and near misses are all time consuming high frequency low impact situations and by watching these, the high impact critical risks are overlooked. The more important focus needs to be on how risks are managed and how robust are incident investigations.

    Personally, I don't sweat the small stuff any more.
  • SusiR
    Thanks Keith - that's true, and it's interesting the reporting from the client / principal, was separating out non LTI incidents (though not illnesses) - the LTIs came under a category of 'serious harm' - which included notifiables. So they are keeping their eye on the higher impact events.
    In this situation we are needing definitions so these particular sub-contractors are reporting to us in a standardised way - however they still need to be applicable and relevant for all of our clients/ org wide reporting.
    Therefore I can't ask those questions to that audience... but they are good food for thought... while I still sweat some of the small things! Thanks again
  • KeithH
    This is the section from Greg Smith I mentioned -
    “The statistical information provided to the board on health and safety comprised mainly personal injury rates and time lost through accidents … The information gave the board some insight but was not much help in assessing the risks of a catastrophic event faced by high hazard industries. … The board appears to have received no information proving the effectiveness of crucial systems such as gas monitoring and ventilation.” (Pike River Royal Commission Report Vol 2 Part 1 Chap 5 para 22 page 53) (Pike River Royal Commission)

    Also worker engagement may assist to identify what these are -
    Incident - unplanned or uncontrolled incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a (omit serious) risk to that person’s health or safety

    Near miss - unplanned or uncontrolled incident in relation to a workplace that had the potential to expose a worker or any other person to a risk to that person’s health or safety

    Serious harm - as per notifiable event
    HSWA sections 58 to 61 may be relevant, especially section 60 (Health and Safety at Work Act)

    Incidently, early this week WorkSafe NZ CEO Phil Parkes spoke at an NZISM webinar about changes to how WorkSafe are interpreting Priorities to Better Work. The focus is on changing language, concepts and mindsets by moving strategies from looking at industry by industry (primarily agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and construction) to cross system hazards and risks.

    The revised priorities are:
    Changes over the next 1 to 2 years (quick fixes as controls are known)
    • plant, structures and vehicles
    • airborne risks and carcinogens
    Strategic business approaches over the next 3 to 5 years (requiring changes to mindset)
    • workforce participation, engagement and representation (moving away from command and control to inclusive productivity)
    • intervening at the top of supply chains (changing business models by focusing on the duties of directors)

    The WorkSafe strategic goals
    Safe Work - people coming home without injury
    Healthy Work - occupational illnesses
    Equitable Outcomes - vulnerable workers

    Not my ramblings
  • Aaron Marshall
    I wouldn't have any definition that is self-referential.
    Incident - unplanned or uncontrolled incident in relation to a workplaceSusiR

    Here is what we have within our rule structure:
    Incident means any occurrence, other than an accident, that is associated
    with the operation of an aircraft and affects or could affect the safety of
    From CAANZ Rule Part 1

    simple and straight forward. If it could cause harm, then it is an incident
  • Garth
    As my Role as HSM at a MHF Site My reference is for MHF Sites, however the definitions remain unchanged for any Notifiable Incidents: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/notifications/notifiable-event/what-is-a-notifiable-event/

    I have cut this from my Incident Reporting Document. I hope these help..feel free to use these in your improved Incident Forms:

    WorkSafe Notifiable Incident Category: HSWA Section 24

    ☐(a) an escape, spillage or leakage of a Controlled Substance, (b) ☐ (an implosion) ☐ explosion ☐ fire

    ☐(c) an escape of gas, steam or ☐(d) an escape of pressurized substance ☐ (e) electric shock

    ☐ (f) the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance, or thing

    ☐ (g) the collapse, overturning, failure, or malfunction of, or damage to, any plant that is required to be authorized for use in accordance with regulations

    ☐ (h) the collapse or partial collapse of a structure ☐ (i) the collapse or failure of an excavation or any shoring supporting an excavation

    ☐ (j) the inrush of water, mud, or gas in workings in an underground excavation or tunnel

    ☐ (k) the interruption of the main system of ventilation in an underground excavation or tunnel

    (l) a collision between 2 vessels, a vessel capsize, or the inrush of water into a vessel; or

    ☐(m) any other incident declared by regulations to be a notifiable incident for the purposes of this section.

    WorkSafe Notifiable Incident Category:
    The following incidents arising out of, or in connection with, a major hazard facility are declared notifiable incidents under HSWA Section 24(1)(m) of the Act.

    MHF Regulations 2016 Major Hazard Facility (MHF) Regulation 33 Incident:
    Notified under HSWA Section 56 and MHF Regulations 2016 Major Hazard Facility (MHF): Regulation 33 & Regulation 34

    Major Incident means an Uncontrolled Event at a Major Hazard Facility(MHF) that:
    ☐ (a) involves, or potentially involves, specified Hazardous Substances;
    ☐ (b) exposes multiple persons to a serious risk to their health or safety (including a risk of death) arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to: 1 or more of those substances as a result of the event; or the direct or indirect effects of the event.

    Type of Declared Major Hazard facility(MHF)Regulation 33 – Notifiable Incident:
    ☐ (a) An unplanned event (other than a false alarm) that requires the Emergency Plan to be implemented
    ☐ (b) An event that does not cause, but has the potential to cause, a major incident
    ☐ (c) Damage to, or failure of, a Safety-Critical Element (SCE) that requires intervention to ensure it will operate as designed. e.g. Fire Sprinkler Activation
    ☐ (d) Unintended release of Hazardous Substances

    Important: Notifiable Incident Major Hazard Facility Form: WKS-14 as PDF if you want to print:
    and email to: &
    Alternatively for any Notifiable Incident Capture Directly using Internet Form: https://www.worksafe.govt.nz/notify-worksafe/

    NB: Immediately Call & Record Date Incident WorkSafe: call: 0800 030 040:

    Only use this form for initial notification of one of the incidents set out in Regulation 33 of the Regulations.
    * The notification must include the information required under Schedule 4 of the Health and Safety at Work (Major Hazard Facilities)Regulations 2016 to the extent that it is reasonably available to the operator at the time of notification.

    2305WKS-14-MHF-notifiable incident-form
    Use this form WKS-14, for subsequent written reports required by the Health and Safety at Work (Major Hazard Facilities) Regulations 2016.

    Serious Hazard Type Causing Injury: Harm and Risk rating must be factored into decision to classify Incident type. i.e. generally these "STOP6 Categories" could result in a Notifiable Incident
    ☐ Contact with Vehicle (Which Type?)
    ☐ Contact with Heavy Object (What Falling Load?)
    ☐ Caught or Pinched by machine/load
    ☐ Falling from Elevated Height (feet >2m from floor)
    ☐ Electric Shock
    ☐ Contact with Heated or Chemical Substance

    WorkSafe Notifiable Injury Category: HSWA Section 23
    ☐ Fatality
    ☐ Loss of Bodily Function (Unconsciousness)
    ☐ Spinal Injury
    ☐ Serious Head Injury
    ☐ Amputation
    ☐ Serious Eye Injury
    ☐ Serious Burn
    ☐ Separation of skin(de-gloving / scalping)
    ☐ Serious Laceration(Major Loss of Blood - Artery)
    ☐ An Injury or illness that requires (or would usually require) a person to be admitted to a hospital for immediate treatment.
    ☐ An injury or illness that requires (or would usually require) a person to receive medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance.

    Non Reportable WorkSafe Injury Type:
    ☐ Chemical Burn(Dermal)
    ☐ Chemical Eye Injury
    ☐ Chemical Inhalation
    ☐ Foreign Body In Eye(Dust)
    ☐ Bruise/Contusion
    ☐ Sprain(Ligament Tear)
    ☐ Strain(Muscle/Tendon Tear)
    ☐ Fracture
    ☐ Dislocation
    ☐ Minor Laceration(Minimal Loss of Blood-Veins)
    ☐ Abrasion / STI (Soft Tissue Injury)
    ☐ Crush
    ☐ Electric Shock
    ☐ Other(Specify):
  • Jan-Ulf Kuwilsky
    Pardon my ignorance, but why separate the two? I like the CAA (and Maritime, I think) versions that any unplanned event that isn't an accident (damage/injury), is an incident. Keeps it really simple and stops people from spending hours debating the difference and detracting from H&S actually providing value. Let lawyers worry about semantics and worry about what might harm your workers, instead of classifying it after it's happened.

    However, if you want to go down the definitions road, I'd suggest you get rid of the circular definition and use of 'incident'. Maybe use 'event' or any other word you want to describe something happening.

  • Aaron Marshall

    Yes, whether it is notifiable or not is only relevant for those working in H&S.
    The employees on the ground need to know what to report to management, which is anything that could have caused harm. Unfortunately, lengthy reporting forms mean that people will try to avoid reporting. If someone doesn't understand half the words on the form, they won't complete it, it's as simple as that.
    To be honest, if I was presented with a form such as Garth's, I'd only complete it if I absolutely had to - there would be no near miss reporting.
    I've got a client whose form is half an A4 page (date, what happened, who, etc). All the rest of the info is completed during discussions with the reporter.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    Couldn't you just record (video or voice-only) the report to make it easier, and then just extract the information you need? Not only would this remove the burden of trying to write it all down; it would minimise the "Chinese Whispers" effect of someone else interpreting what was said and avoid the potential "static" of trying to write information down - not everyone is comfortable or competent with writing, and then the choice of words can be interpreted differently by various people because there is no sensory information accompanying the words, and the choice of words is not always careful or deliberate, which can also have an impact in how they are understood.

    In addition, a competent facilitator (NOT an interviewer or interrogator) should be able to ask relevant and well-considered questions and allow the person to answer, using effective active listening skills and tools to ensure the account is sufficiently explored and recorded.

    If the discussion is recorded using a webcam or tripod, the facilitator will also be able to have their full attention present with the person, creating a much higher degree of rapport and trust, which is likely to give a much better result all round.

    Worth considering??
  • Rowly Brown
    In any OHSMS I was providing to a client, a form like Garth’s would only be used for the final recording of an event (incident/accident/occurrence), not for the reporting of same. The initial reporting would either be a direct verbal communication by a person to a more senior person in the business, or the simple submitting of basic information in written form.

    Verbal reporting works quite well when management has an ‘open door’ policy, where anybody can talk to anybody else in the business as of right, subject to their availability. I encourage all my clients to adopt this policy. Most do! Some place some limitations on access to the senior management team members for practical reasons. Completing a simple reporting form is the default option. I believe there is always a percentage of workers who will not report events it would be desirable for the business to be informed about because it was not convenient at the time, and afterwards they often can’t be bothered.
    Reporting mechanisms need to be simple and easy. In my view, and experience, the primary objective is to get a responsible person’s (i.e. someone who can initiate the next step) attention. This creates the opportunity for a discussion, and then possible advancement of the issue, or not, depending on the outcome of that discussion.

    A client had already introduced the concept of a Reporting Card to allow employees to communicate their concerns. We discussed at length, created different models, worked through them with the H&S committee for a variety of scenarios and settled on a simple refined version. It’s still called a Reporting Card and is printed on coloured A4 card so that it is robust, is able to be located in box holders around the premises, and is typically referred to by workers and supervisors as a Pinky, Bluey, or whatever colour was chosen.

    There are six check boxes at the top of the card from which to select an event type description - Hazard, Near Miss, Accident, Property Damage, Maintenance/Repair Req’d, Improvement Suggestion. It doesn’t matter which box is ticked. There will be an initial follow-up regardless. There are 12 information categories that could be completed. Only four require information from the person reporting. These cover the Area/Location, an indication of the Issue, the Name of the person reporting, and the Date. If the person reporting can provide additional information, including suggestions, remedies etc, well and good.
    The issue is followed up by the person reported to, or referred on to another person as appropriate. If a verbal report is made the Reporting Card is completed by the person reported to, including signing off any follow-up actions if that is within their competency.

    The initial follow-up is typically “show me”, which involves a joint visit to the location of concern! There may or may not be anything physical to see. Certainly, context is important. Discussion occurs, and the matter progressed from there if warranted. Many locations and contexts may make any form of audio/visual recording difficult or even impractical, but if possible, this would take place if the enquiry graduates to the analysis phase.

    Escalation procedures apply as appropriate. Cards are filed appropriately, retained, and their completion reported on to Management. Some events will escalate into involved and detailed investigations. A form such as Garth’s might be utilised in a more formal investigation, along with information recorded using different media.
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