What to expect after a work-related death

What to expect immediately after the work-related death of a loved one. Please talk to the Family Liaison Officer about what we can do to assist you to navigate this difficult time.



The information provided below is for general use. We are mindful that people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or are from culturally and linguistically diverse background may have different practices.

Losing a loved one from a work-related death is an extremely stressful, distressing and confusing time.

It's one of the most difficult experiences you will go through. At first, you may feel total shock and think it can't be true.

There's no 'right' way to manage this kind of a loss.

We have a dedicated Family Liaison Officer to support you through the investigation and prosecution process. You can call them on 1800 136 089.

Please be aware that the Family Liaison Officer can't provide crisis support.

If you need urgent counselling, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 and in an emergency, call police on 000.

The first week

A lot happens in the week after a work-related death.

The police are called immediately. They may:

  • notify the person's closest living relative or relatives (next of kin)
  • report the death to the Coroner
  • arrange for you, a family member or close friend to identify your loved one
  • start an investigation to establish if any crimes were committed
  • manage the investigation if your loved one died in a motor vehicle accident
  • look at the circumstances of the death for the Coroner and prepare a full report

WorkSafe's Enforcement Group works closely with police to investigate most work-related deaths. They need to find out if occupational health and safety (OHS) laws were broken.

If your loved one died in a motor vehicle accident or of natural causes, WorkSafe may not become involved.

Sometimes there will be a number of different investigations occurring at the same time. These agencies will stay in contact with you.

State Coroner's Office of Victoria

The State Coroner's Office of Victoria investigates work-related deaths. If WorkSafe has started an investigation, the Coroner works with WorkSafe.

The State Coroner's Office will notify the senior next of kin about the incident and provide support and information on their processes.

They can tell you where your loved one will be taken. You can call the office 24 hours a day on 1300 309 519.

The funeral

You choose which funeral director to use. You may already know of a company, or you can look online.

Most of them are open 24 hours a day. It's worth talking with a few funeral directors, meeting with them and choosing the one you feel most comfortable with.

Funeral directors may want a deposit before the funeral, with the balance paid later. Check their terms before making commitments.

Organising a burial or cremation

Your loved one's employer's WorkSafe Agent may pay for or reimburse these costs. Call the Advisory service for more information.

Read more on How to make a claim for entitlements following a work-related death.

If the Agent cannot pay and you're concerned about costs:

  • your loved one may have provided for funeral costs in their will
  • Centrelink may provide a bereavement benefit. Call them on 132 300 to find out
  • returned service personnel may be entitled to an official war grave through the Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • some health funds provide a funeral benefit
  • your loved one may have been a member of a trade union or other club or association which may provide a funeral benefit

More information

This page provides general information about WorkSafe's role in investigating workplace incidents.

It is not intended to take the place of legal advice you may need to obtain about a fatality or any rights you may have.

For more information, contact the Family Liaison Officer or the WorkSafe advisory service.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options