Did you know that there were more than 217,000 work-related injury claims made in 2020? It doesn’t matter whether you primarily work indoors or outdoors, there’s always the risk that something unexpected could happen that requires medical attention. First Aid is the most immediate way of supporting a worker when medical assistance is needed. Accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime and businesses need to be prepared.

In this article, we explain the relevant duties and requirements a workplace should have in place to ensure its first aid ready.

Let’s get into it.

First aid obligations: what are they?

An employer’s core work health and safety (WHS) duty is to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of everyone while in the workplace. These duties not only apply to employees, but extend to independent contractors, volunteers, and the employees of contractors or labour-hire agencies as well. Any person who’s on a worksite is owed a duty of care. One thing an employer must do to meet this duty is to ensure appropriate first aid resources and training are available on site.

But that’s not to say the entirety of the responsibility to provide a safe working environment falls solely on the employers. Employees (and other workers) also must take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of others. Workers need to be aware of all safety protocols, follow WHS directions and policies, and safely perform their jobs to mitigate any risks.

Being first aid compliant

Every workplace environment is different, and to be first aid compliant, employers must think about the following main factors in deciding what types of first aid equipment and facilities will be needed. The more dangerous and unpredictable the job is, the more likely first aid will be needed.

At a minimum, employers should consider:

  • nature of the work and its risks;
  • physical size and location of the workplace;
  • number and composition of workers and other people at work; and
  • overlapping duties with other employers in the workplace.

Employees should be given clear information about first aid availability including:

  • location of first aid kits;
  • names and locations of first aiders;
  • location of a first aid room (if there is one); and
  • procedures to follow when they need first aid.

Typically, you would inform an employee of this information during their induction or when any changes are made including storage location or trained first aid Officer’s identities.

What training and equipment does your worksite need?

Does your worksite require there to be either one or more first aid Officers? If so, training will need to be provided to ensure that each first aid Officer is competent in providing first aid assistance. At a minimum, every Officer must be issued a first aid certificate by a registered training organisation. If your workplace has a higher risk of injury, your first aid Officers may need to receive further training.

Every worksite must have at least one first aid kit on hand. The number, location, and contents of these kits will depend on the type of worksite and should be tailored to what will most likely be needed and contain the basic treatment equipment.

First aid decision making

The final decision regarding health and safety compliance will always be the employer’s however, you must, as far as reasonably practicable, engage with all workers and get feedback on matters that will directly affect them. This also includes first aid.

It’s best to consult with workers, get their ideas and thoughts, and implement systems and facilities based on their feedback.

Accidents happen without warning and being prepared is the best way employers can ensure they not only meet their WHS obligations but also meet their duty of care responsibilities. If you have any questions about first aid in the workplace or have another workplace matter you need support with, please reach out to our experts via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.