This policy is current as at 26/09/2018 02:17pm, AEST. Please refer to policy library website (https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library) for an updated version.

Incident Notification and Response Policy STAFF ONLY

This policy outlines the obligations of all NSW Department of Education (the department) employees to respond in the event of an incident, undertake prompt notification through the required channels and arrange appropriate incident support. For the purposes of this policy, a workplace is any NSW public school or other departmental workplace. A ‘workplace’ also includes locations where approved work or school based activities are being carried out.

1. Policy statement

1.1 All employees of the department have a responsibility under legislation, and duty of care obligations, to actively respond to workplace incidents. In the event of an incident, all employees of the department are required to implement key incident response processes, take action to notify the relevant area and implement incident support processes.

1.2 The notification of incidents is a legislative requirement for employees under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 as is mandatory reporting of child protection concerns under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.

1.3 An incident is an event that creates danger or risk that could significantly affect the health, safety and wellbeing of individuals and cause major disruption, impact on the effective operation of workplaces, or attract significant negative media attention.

1.4 In the event of an incident occurring the safety and wellbeing of students, staff and others is the first priority. Incident notification enables the department to act to provide early intervention, management and support where required and take corrective action to prevent further incident or injury.

1.5 Serious incidents where emergency services attend or there is an evacuation or isolation of sections of the schools or workplace, should be reported as soon as possible but within the first hour of the incident occurring.

1.6 For all other incidents, employees are to report as soon as possible but within 24 hours of the incident occurring to the relevant area as set out in the Incident Notification and Response Procedures so the department can properly manage and respond to the incident.

1.7 A workplace incident includes all incidents at the workplace and also incidents occurring during an activity or at a location directly related to work e.g. overseas and domestic excursions, sports events. It also includes incidents that are required to be notified under legislation as set out in this policy and accompanying procedures.

The type of incidents to be notified include but are not limited to:

  • Criminal or potentially criminal activity that occurs in the school or workplace, examples include:
    • violence or threats of violence;
    • possession of weapons;
    • sexual assault;
    • bomb threat;
    • possession of drugs;
    • criminal conduct or misconduct by employees; or
    • any other illegal activity.
  • anti-social and extremist behaviour;
  • workplace fatality and other notifiable incidents as required by legislation;
  • workplace hazards, injuries, illness or near misses;
  • natural disasters such as storms, bush fire or flood;
  • student or employee suicide or attempted suicide;
  • student wellbeing incidents resulting in emergency services being contacted. e.g. self-harm, use of EpiPen or incidents involving ambulance call out;
  • contentious issue  including major complaints or unfavourable media attention;
  • outbreak of infectious disease;
  • loss of use of facilities resulting in disruption to school or workplace operations or acting to temporarily cease operations; or
  • a non-workplace incident that occurred that was not a workplace related activity but which may impact on students, employees, the school community or workplace e.g. student/staff accident or death including over a holiday period.

Refer to the Incident Notification and Response Procedures (PDF 97 KB) for details about incident notification.

1.8 For each workplace incident that occurs, employees must:

(a) Implement an appropriate immediate response commensurate with the circumstances which may include:

  • immediate provision of first aid;
  • contacting emergency services (triple zero);
  • activation of the local emergency management plan;
  • securing the area including adhering to non-disturbance requirements in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011;
  • attend to the immediate needs of those affected by the incident
  • contacting parents/carers or next of kin; and
  • co-operating with emergency services.

(b) Notify the incident to the relevant area and line manager as set out in the Incident Notification and Response Procedure as soon as possible but within 24 hours.

(c) Implement and communicate post-incident support services for those affected by the incident.  This may include arranging student counselling services and providing information to staff on how to access the post-incident support services and/or facilitating post incident support on site as set out in the Incident Notification and Response Procedures. Principals should contact their school counsellor or Senior Psychologist Education as part of the process to arrange counselling services.

1.9 For non-workplace incidents, employees should:

(a) Notify the incident to the relevant area and line manager as set out in the Incident Notification and Response Procedures as soon as possible but within 24 hours.

(b) Implement and communicate post-incident support services for those affected by the incident.  This would include arranging student counselling services and providing information to staff on how to access the post incident support services and/or facilitating post incident support on site as set out in the Incident Notification and Response Procedures.

1.10 Employees and others undertaking work for the department e.g. volunteers and contractors, must report workplace incidents, and workplace related incidents. This includes incidents occurring at an activity directly related to work such as overseas and domestic excursions, sports events, and community events even if they occur outside the normal workplace.

1.11 The department has established systems for notification which are set out in the Incident Notification and Response Procedures.

2. Audience and applicability

2.1 This policy applies to all employees and others undertaking work for the department.

3. Context

3.1 Workplace incidents must be reported in accordance with requirements under a range of legislation and departmental policies, including but not restricted to:

  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.
  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.
  • Part 3A of the Ombudsman Act 1974
  • Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012.
  • NSW Department of Education, Protecting and Supporting Children and Young People procedures
  • NSW Department of Education, Responding to Allegations against Employees in the Area of Child Protection
  • NSW Department of Education, Code of Conduct; and
  • NSW Department of Education, Emergency Management Procedures.

3.2 This policy does not replace other departmental notification or reporting procedures that are required for other purposes.

3.3 Procedures concerning this policy are available on the departmental policy website.

3.4 This policy replaces the Incident Reporting Policy published on 13 May 2014.

4. Responsibilities and delegations

4.1 The Secretary of the department will ensure that systems are in place for the reporting and management of incidents at all levels of the department in accordance with statutory and regulatory obligations.

4.2 Senior executive, directors and workplace managers are required to:

  • ensure this policy is communicated to staff implemented and take reasonable steps to see that it is implemented in their area of control;
  • establish incident reporting arrangements for the workplace in accordance with this policy and associated procedures;
  • co-ordinate support for employees and students who are responding to or impacted by incidents;
  • take reasonable steps to make employees familiar with departmental memoranda, policies, procedures and information relating to incident reporting;
  • work cooperatively with relevant areas of the department to facilitate a prompt and effective organisational response and support for students and employees;
  • monitor and evaluate the operation of this policy within their area of responsibility; and
  • share information as appropriate with other areas of the department to assist with responding to the incident and meeting external reporting requirements.

4.3 Employees and others undertaking work for the department are required to:

  • follow the department’s policy and procedures on incident response as set out in this policy and the Incident Notification and Response Procedures;
  • notify incidents to their supervisor or workplace manager; and
  • ensure principals or workplace managers are informed about incidents involving students or staff or otherwise impacting on the school or workplace of which they become aware.

5. Monitoring and review

5.1 The Health and Safety Directorate is responsible for monitoring the implementation of this policy and reviewing its effectiveness as required, but at a minimum of once every three years.

6. Policy contact officer

Strategic Programs and Policy Unit,
Health and Safety Directorate
T: (02) 9707 6408

7. Implementation date

23 November 2017.

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