Preserving the scene
An incident site must not be disturbed until an inspector arrives at the site or directs otherwise (whichever is earlier) so far as reasonably practicable. The person with management or control of the workplace is responsible for preserving the incident site, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Any evidence that may assist an inspector to determine the cause of the incident must be preserved—including any plant, substance, structure or thing associated with the incident.
However, preserving an incident site does not prevent any action needed:
- to assist an injured person
- to remove a deceased person
- to make the site safe or to minimise the risk of a further notifiable incident, or
- to facilitate a police investigation.
For serious matters, the inspector may issue a non-disturbance notice if they consider that the incident site should remain undisturbed in order to facilitate their investigation. This notice will specify the period for which the notice is to apply.
Notifications are reviewed as soon as possible and a WorkSafe inspector will contact the person in control or business or undertaking (PCBU) in relation to whether the site may be released. Work may be able to continue in areas of the workplace that are outside of the incident area, unaffected by it and do not use any involved plant, substance or tools.
A PCBU unsure about matters in relation to preserving a site should contact the WorkSafe Inspector allocated to the incident, if the details are known, or otherwise call WorkSafe via 1300 307 877 during business hours.
Penalties apply if an individual or body corporate fails to preserve a site.
Following reporting a death or serious incident, a non-disturbance notice may be issued. A non-disturbance notice is a written notice issued by an inspector requiring a person with management or control of a workplace to preserve a ‘notifiable incident’ site or prevent disturbance of a particular site (including the operation of plant) in certain circumstances. It may only be issued if the inspector reasonably believes that it is necessary to do so to facilitate the exercise of an inspector’s their compliance powers.
A notice may require the person to preserve the site or prevent disturbance for up to seven days, and must include the measures to be taken to do so.
One or more subsequent non-disturbance notices may be issued to a person if an inspector considers this necessary.
A non-disturbance notice does not prevent any action required to protect a person’s health or safety, help someone who is injured or make the site safe.
A person issued with a non-disturbance notice must comply with the notice unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so.