By Katrina Sullivan
Whether you’re sitting comfortably in an office or toughing it out working outdoors, there’s always the risk that something unexpected may happen which requires medical attention. First aid is the most immediate way of supporting a worker when medical assistance is needed. An accident could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime – whether it’s an employee, a customer, or even a business owner.
In this article, I discuss the relevant duties and requirements a workplace should have to ensure your business is first aid ready.
Let’s get into it.
What are your first aid obligations?
An employer’s core work health and safety (WHS) duty is to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers 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 employers 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) must also take reasonable care for their health and safety and 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.
What are the requirements?
To be first aid compliant, there are legal requirements that employers must meet and they depend on the workplace environment and the duties the job entails. The more dangerous and unpredictable the job is, the more likely first aid will be needed. If your workplace fails to meet these obligations, you could incur a hefty fine.
At a minimum, employers should ensure that:
- there are accessible first aid kits on-site;
- the kits are kept fully stocked and in date; and
- all workers on their worksites are aware of:
- the location and type of first aid kits;
- the names and work locations of trained first aid officers; and
- procedures to be followed when first aid or further assistance is required.
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.
Training and equipment: what’s involved?
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.
Do first aid officers get any allowances?
Some modern awards and enterprise agreements (EAs) provide allowances to employees who are authorised first aid officers for the employer. These allowances compensate the worker for the extra duties they’ll be taking on and are usually paid for a specific period at a rate specified by the award or EA. We highly recommend checking the award or EA you or your employees are covered by to find out if there are any additional requirements.
Accidents happen without warning and being prepared is the best way employers can ensure they not only meet their WHS obligations but also their duty of care responsibilities. If you have any questions about first aid in the workplace or have another workplace issue you need support with, please reach out to our experts via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.
Katrina Sullivan is a Workplace Relations Advisor at FCB and HR Assured. She provides specialised advice and support to multiple clients regarding a wide range of workplace and employment matters. She is particularly interested in the areas of industrial law policy development and employment dispute management.