AGPT practice and supervisor handbook

For practices

Work health and safety and critical incidents

Last revised: 27 Mar 2024

Work health and safety and critical incidents

Work health and safety

Each practice has work health and safety obligations that are governed by federal and state/territory legislation. Staff should be familiar with the practice’s policies on managing hazards, adverse events, near misses and critical incidents.

All staff, including supervisors and registrars, have a duty to take reasonable care of their own and others’ health and safety. This includes managing fatigue and ensuring their actions and omissions don’t adversely affect others. Refer to Safe Work Australia for more information.

Stress and fatigue in general practice

We encourage all practice staff to read our policy position statement on stress and fatigue in general practice. It discusses some of the causes of stress and fatigue in general practice and some potential solutions.

We also encourage you to look out for warning signs of fatigue and burnout in yourself, registrars and colleagues. Signs of burnout include:

  • mental and physical exhaustion
  • making mistakes
  • preoccupation with work
  • feeling negative or cynical about work
  • emotional numbing or detachment.

If these signs are not addressed, they can lead to further physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of clinical errors and conflict in relationships.

Maintaining appropriate boundaries

The RACGP recommends that registrars not provide medical treatment to staff at their practice. Please don’t ask the registrar for medical care or prescriptions for yourself (or your family) if there is a realistic alternative available.

Helpful resources

The RACGP White Book has a helpful chapter on Keeping the health professional safe and healthy: Clinician support and self-care.

You can find other self-care resources and support services on the RACGP GP wellbeing webpage and in the Support for practices section.

Critical incidents and adverse events

Reporting critical incidents and adverse events is important. Reporting enables prompt assistance and support to be given which can help to reduce the impact on the registrar’s training. It also enables the RACGP to monitor issues on a national basis and reduce risks, promote safe learning environments and continue to make improvements.

Practices are required to have processes to manage critical incidents and adverse events, whether they involve registrars, supervisors and/or the practice itself. It is important that all staff are familiar with and understand these processes.

Under Australian Medical Council requirements, the RACGP is responsible for ensuring the safety of registrars and patients. A critical incident or adverse event must be reported to us if it involves a registrar or impacts their training.

An adverse event is any disruptive event that causes, or risks causing, significant harm to patients, registrars, supervisors, practice staff, training program staff or the associated organisations involved in program delivery.

A critical incident is any adverse event that results in a serious negative outcome for patients, registrars, supervisors, practice staff, training program staff, the RACGP and/or its staff, the reputation of the AGPT program or any combination of these.

Reporting an incident or event

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure incidents and events are reported as soon as possible. The privacy of all involved will be protected, and the report will be accessible only to RACGP staff who require access.

Practice managers and supervisors should be familiar with the Critical incident and adverse event management and reporting guidance document and promptly notify the RACGP of any event. For further information about reporting a critical incident or adverse event, contact the RACGP at