Reporting an incident is an important part of an effective occupational health and safety program. It helps identify work related health and safety hazards, risks and dangers. The purpose is to identify the causes of incidents.

Appropriate controls can then be put in place to prevent further occurrences of such events. In other words an incident investigation is normally performed to find out what happened, why it happened, and to prevent it from happening again. The same innovative approach is demonstrated through the stipulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. According to the Act, the employer or user of machinery should formally investigate all section 24 incidents as well as any other incident where more medical treatment than the normal first aid is required.

Section 24 incidents that should be reported and investigated include the following types of incidents:

  • When a person dies
  • When a person becomes unconscious
  • Suffers the lost of a limb or part of a limb
  • Is injured or becomes ill, or is likely to die or suffer permanent physical defect
  • Unable to work for 14 days or longer because of a work related incident
  • When a ”major incident” occurs

(Based on Legislation in section 24(a) and (b), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act) Section 1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act defines it as ”an occurrence of catastrophic proportions, resulting from the use of plant or machinery, or from activities at a work place.”

The following occurrences must also be reported to the Provincial Director. When lives were endangered by:

  • Dangerous spilled substances
  • Uncontrolled release of a substance under pressure
  • Flying, falling, uncontrolled moving object
  • Machinery that ran out of control

(Based on Legislation in section 24(c), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act)

Procedure for reporting:

The above mentioned incidents; Section 24(a); (b) and (c) occurrences; should be reported immediately to the Provincial Director. It should be done by telephone, fax, or similar means of communication. They should also be reported to the Provincial Director within 7 days using the WCL 1 or WCL 2 forms.

If the injured person dies after notice the employer or user shall notify the Provincial Director of the death by fax or similar means of communication. (Based on Legislation in GAR 8, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.)

The prescribed recording and investigation of incidents: 

The employer or user should keep record of all section 24 incidents and any other incident where medical treatment or first aid is involved. This must be done in the form of the prescribed ”Annexure 1” form. (Example attached to this document) Take note that records need to be kept for a period of at least three years. (Based on Legislation in GAR 9, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.)

The incident site may not be disturbed without the consent of an inspector in the case where a person:

  • Dies
  • Loss of limb or part of limb
  • Likely either to die

You may however:

  • Remove injured or dead
  • Rescue persons from danger

This shall not apply to:

  • Traffic accident on a public road
  • Incident at a private household
  • Accidents according to the Aviation Act

The investigation should be performed by one the following persons: 

  • The employer or user of machinery
  • A person appointed by the employer to investigate the incident
  • The health and safety representative of the work area
  • A member of the health and safety committee

The investigation should officially start within a period of 7 days and finalised as soon as is reasonably practicable, or within the contracted period in the case of contracted workers. An employer must ensure that the incident (record) be examined by the health and safety committee. (Based on Legislation in GAR 9, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.)

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