First Aid in the Workplace

As you may know, first aid is the initial help provided to a person suffering from an injury or illness. What you may not know is that workplace first aid is enshrined in legislation, the specifics of which vary between states and territories.

This legislation is in place because adequate first aid in the workplace can potentially:

  • reduce the severity of an injury
  • save lives
  • lead to faster recovery
  • reduce lost time.

First aid provided within the workplace is not limited to employees. It includes third parties such as labour hire personnel, contractors, subcontractors, visitors or volunteers when on the employer’s site.

Employers’ responsibilities

Employers must provide a safe workplace. This includes access to first aid facilities like first aid kits and supplies, which should be maintained and restocked, as well as trained first aid officers. A first aid room may also be required, depending on the nature of the workplace and the work itself.

Determining the level of risk in your workplace

Workplaces can be considered low or high risk, depending on the industry, the nature of the work and the individual workplace. A low-risk workplace is one in which employees are exposed to minor hazards — that is, those that aren’t likely to result in serious illness or injury. High-risk workplaces are those in which employees are exposed to hazards that may result in serious illness or injury.

Workplace risk assessment

To help determine the supplies, equipment, facilities and training that you’ll need to fulfil your duty of care, you should complete a first aid risk assessment. There are several things Safe Work Australia recommends to consider including:

  • The industry and nature of the work being completed and safety issues that could arise.
  • The number and composition of people attending the workplace, including employees, labour hire personnel, contractors, subcontractors, visitors and volunteers.
  • The location of your workplace (if regional or remote, this may include the response times for emergency services).
  • The size of the premises, including the proximity of first aid facilities to work areas.
  • How likely an incident is to occur (probability) and the resulting injuries that may occur (severity).

Past injuries and near-miss statistics from your facility and information from similar industries can provide useful information to support your risk assessment.1

General First Aid Requirements

First aid officers

Safe Work Australia recommends for:

  • low risk workplaces to have one first aider for every 50 workers
  • high risk workplaces to have one first aider for every 25 employees, and
  • remote high risk workplaces to have one first aider for every 10 workers.1

First aid officers as a minimum should hold nationally recognised Statement/s of Attainment for a nationally endorsed first aid course. This endorsement is issued by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). A higher level or additional training may be required to ensure first aiders have appropriate skills to manage risks identified in your workplace.2

First aid officers need to be competent at providing first aid, and refresher training should be undertaken as required. All employees should know who the first aid officers are and how to contact them in an emergency.

First aid room

A first aid room is required for low-risk workplaces with over 200 employees and high-risk workplaces with over 100 employees.1 A responsible person should be engaged to maintain the room, including equipment and supplies.

First aid kits

Kits should be clearly identifiable and located in easily accessible, high traffic areas. All employees should know where they are located. A responsible person should be engaged to maintain first aid supplies.

Record keeping

All first aid treatment given should be recorded. The information should be retained and regularly reported to management, and its effectiveness should be reviewed.

First aid compliance is important to every workplace. First aid, in addition to helping keep the workplace safe, can help to save money by reducing lost time.

Failure to comply with WHS legislation may lead to significant fines for individuals and/or the organisation, with some leading to the risk of imprisonment.

It is vital employers provide first aid resources in the workplace to care for a worker in the event of an injury or illness.

GIO can offer Workers Compensation Insurance for businesses in WA, NT, ACT and TAS.

Complimentary training courses are available for GIO customers to help businesses prevent workplace injuries and reduce associated claims costs. Customers also have access to a wide range of discounted training courses provided through our partnership with National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA). For more information on the training courses or if you have any risk management queries, please get in touch.

Know more about Workers Compensation Insurance

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1Safe Work Australia, 2017: First Aid

2Safe Work Australia: Model code of practice: First aid in the workplace

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. In NSW, GIO manages claims as agent for the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer ABN 83 564 379 108, also known as icare workers insurance.  This information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.