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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore to tātou waka e ū ki uta

Section 10: If an incident happens – guidelines for what to do

A student working with an ipad

10.1 Introduction

An injury is where harm has occurred. An incident is where harm might have occurred (a near miss). As a part of their health and safety policy, every school is required to have procedures to record, report, notify, and investigate when an injury or incident occurs. These procedures should enable schools to identify injury and incident trends and develop injury prevention strategies. The Ministry also provides information about injury and incident reporting (see Worksafe at Schools – Injury and Incident Reporting).

Schools also need to ensure that:

  • each staff member knows their responsibilities for reporting injuries and incidents
  • staff have appropriate training on legal responsibilities for reporting and investigating any incident or injury.

10.2 Initial response

Ensure that any injured person receives appropriate treatment.

In the case of a serious harm injury 2, the school is required to ensure that as little change as possible is made to the scene of the injury, except where it is necessary to:

  • save someone’s life, prevent further harm, or relieve someone’s suffering
  • maintain access for the general public to an essential service or utility
  • prevent serious damage to, or loss of, property.

Leaving the scene unchanged is called “non-interference with an injury scene” and it will aid Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – Labour Group investigators with reconstructing what occurred before and after the injury.

Serious harm is defined in a Schedule to the HSE Act as follows:

  • Any of the following conditions that amounts to or results in permanent loss of bodily function, or temporary severe loss
    of bodily function: respiratory disease, noise-induced hearing loss, neurological disease, cancer, dermatological disease, communicable disease, musculoskeletal disease, illness caused by exposure to infected material, decompression sickness, poisoning, vision impairment, chemical or hot-metal burn of eye, penetrating wound of eye, bone fracture, laceration, crushing.
  • Amputation of body part.
  • Burns requiring referral to a specialist, registered medical practitioner, or specialist outpatient clinic.
  • Loss of consciousness from lack of oxygen.
  • Loss of consciousness, or acute illness requiring treatment by a registered medical practitioner, from absorption, inhalation, or ingestion of any substance.
  • Any harm that causes the person harmed to be hospitalised for a period of 48 hours or more commencing within 7 days of the harm’s occurrence.

The definition of serious harm is relevant to employers’ duties to manage hazards, notification requirements, employees’ rights to refuse to do dangerous work, and inspectors’ powers to issue prohibition notices.

10.3 Reporting to MBIE – Labour Group

Where serious harm occurs to an employee, student, volunteer helper, or visitor, schools are required to notify MBIE – Labour Group as soon as possible, and to submit a written report to the Secretary of MBIE within seven days. In practice, this means sending a written report to the nearest Regional Office of MBIE – Labour Group.

10.4 Reporting within a school

When an injury or incident occurs, teachers (and students through their teacher) need to report it to the principal, and the health and safety coordinator. Parents, guardians, and/or whānau should also be informed.

10.5 Injury/incident register

Injuries/incidents must be recorded in an injury/incident register. Schools may decide to record student and staff injuries/incidents in the same register. The register must provide the following:

  • information to help prevent occurrences
  • information to help fulfil the school’s reporting requirements
  • information for ACC claims.

Information to be recorded on the register must include:

  • date and time of injury/incident
  • name of individual injured/involved in a incident
  • description of injury/incident
  • part of body affected
  • treatment provided
  • staff member’s name who was in charge and their location at the time of the incident/injury.

The health and safety coordinator is responsible for ensuring the injury register is completed for each injury/incident.

A template form is available at the website referenced below (see 10.8 Template forms).

10.6 Injury/incident investigation

The purpose of investigating injuries/incidents is to identify the causes and prevent recurrence.

Investigation of an injury/incident is the responsibility of the school health and safety coordinator.

For the majority of injuries/incidents, the causes are straightforward and the school can do the investigation.

In the case of serious injuries, MBIE – Labour Group will likely be involved. In other cases, the school may wish to enlist expert assistance or use a school staff member who has received specialist training.

It would be helpful to identify people with investigation skills who are available to assist if an injury/incident should occur.

Some incidents where no serious harm occurs have a potential to cause harm. These incidents must also be investigated to understand what took place and to ensure that it does not recur and cause harm in the future.

10.7 Corrective actions

The health and safety coordinator is responsible for ensuring corrective actions are identified and implemented. This includes feeding results of investigations back into the hazard management process.

If an investigation into an injury/incident identifies a significant hazard, this will need to be recorded in the school’s hazard register. Following an investigation, information should be given to staff, students, and others on any changes to school health and safety management procedures.

10.8 Template forms

The following forms are available from the Ministry of Education website:

  • Toolkit 10 – Injury Incident Reporting Checklist
  • Toolkit 10a – Injury Incident Procedure
  • Toolkit 10b – Definition of Serious Harm
  • Toolkit 10c – Checklist of Immediate and Basic Causes
  • Toolkit 10d – Injury Incident Investigation Form
  • Toolkit 10e – Notice of Record of Injury
  • Toolkit 10f – Board Report 

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