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Element 6 Incident and hazard management


In its simplest form safety management could be described as identifying hazards or risks (you may know them as problems) and fixing them.  This methodology works well for minor simple incidents but doesn't allow for the discovery of all of the contributing factors that lead to major accidents.

To uncover the significant contributing factors that lead to accidents and incidents, it is necessary to have a system for reporting and recording the incidents and hazards. This system should be able to provide the framework for investigations and also be able to track actions and recommendations arising from the investigations. The system should also be "closed loop" to ensure all reports that are raised are formally tracked until closure and that none are able to be dismissed without appropriate attention.

Reporting and identification methods at USQ

The identification of hazards and risks at USQ is achieved by several methods:

  • hazard inspections;
  • informal communication;
  • confidential surveys and questionnaires;
  • internal and external audits;
  • a suggestion box;
  • small group meetings; and
  • incident and hazard reporting.

Hazard Inspections

Hazard inspections are conducted in accordance with the inspection schedule in the Workplace Health and Safety procedures. Areas identified as higher in risk are inspected more frequently and also have random inspections by USQSafe. All other areas are inspected at least annually.

Informal communication

One of the most effective ways to identify hazards is to talk to staff.

Managers and supervisors are encouraged to have an "open door" policy that invites staff to express their concerns directly to managers. Talks may also be initiated by when a safety officer or senior manager walks around the workplace and asks people if they are having any problems.

The interest expressed by the managers demonstrates concern for safety and provides an opportunity for staff to raise concerns that might not have done in a more formal environment.

Confidential surveys and questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires are used at USQ to elicit feedback from staff about specific areas and operations. The safety and wellbeing team can tailor a survey or questionnaire for all University areas and divisions on request.

A general safety survey is conducted every two years across the whole university by the safety and wellbeing team.

Internal and external audits

Internal and external audits are conducted according to the guidelines in Element 12, Audit and Survey, and the audit schedule in the Workplace Health and Safety Procedures.  An audit tool is available for each element of the Safety Management System.

Suggestion box

The suggestion box system at USQ utilises the internal mail system and can be anonymous or confidential as required by the user. Staff and students are encouraged to raise safety concerns or to forward suggestions in any format they choose to the Safety and Wellbeing Manager, Level 2 S Block, Toowoomba.

All requests for confidentiality or anonymity will be treated as such.

Small group meetings

These may be part of the safety committee structure or could be discussions held during morning tea. Hazards identified in these meetings should be forwarded as Hazard Reports to the safety and wellbeing team or tracked as part of the committee minutes and action item register. More details on committee structures can be found in Element 9 Participation and Consultation.

Incident and hazard reporting

Guidance on incident and hazard reporting is available in the Workplace Health and Safety Procedures:


Incident and hazard reporting forms are available online or in hardcopy from the safety and wellbeing team.

University Hazard and Incident Reporting and Tracking System (UniHIRTS)

UniHIRTS is the system used to report, record, investigate and track actions. This is system developed from within USQ and is capable of interfacing with the HR Management System, PeopleSoft.

UniHIRTS is an online, paperless system that can be used by all staff and students with little or no training. The supervisor, manager and safety and wellbeing team member levels require relevant training available from the University.

The investigation and analysis methodology are based on Professor James Reason's model of the organisational accident and all contributing factors are further classified using the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS). This methodology allows for detailed analysis and identification of the contributing factors into classifications of human error that can be more easily addressed.

Full operating guidelines for UniHIRTS are available from the safety and wellbeing team.


Responsibility for the investigation of incident and accidents varies depending on the severity of the incident. All minor incidents are to be investigated by the appropriate supervisor using UniHIRTS or the paper based forms. All incidents that require more than first aid care will also be investigated using UniHIRTS.

Major incidents with significant capital loss or serious personal injury may warrant  a full investigation by the University or in cases where there are four or more days lost time, by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.