Code of practice
The relevant code of practice – Codes of practice: First Aid Facilities and Services, Workplace Amenities and Facilities, Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment – provides practical advice on complying with the requirements of the legislation.
The code notes that having identified the hazards and assessed the risk at the workplace, employers (and other responsible workplace parties) need to determine:
- the contents of first aid boxes, the number of first aid boxes and where they should be located in order to be readily available
- any need for a simple oxygen supply
- the number of people to be trained in first aid and approved training for particular workplaces
- the possible need for a first aid room and the equipment it should contain
- a system for recording and reporting occupational injuries, diseases and illness and the first aid administered
- the availability of trained first aid personnel during working hours e.g. on night shift, and
- the availability of professional medical care (e.g. local hospital, medical centre) and emergency services (e.g. ambulance) and response times.
Providing first aid facilities and services for a workplace identified as a major hazard facility should be done in conjunction with the development of emergency plans designed to minimise the effects of any accident or near miss that occurs at that facility. These emergency plans are covered in Safe Work Australia’s Guide for Major Hazard Facilities – Emergency plans.
Once first aid facilities and services have been established, they should be under continual review to determine if they need to be changed or expanded. This should be done by the employer in consultation with workers and any trained first aid personnel, safety and health representatives or safety and health committee at the workplace, where they exist.
This review process is particularly important when the first aid facilities have been established before workers are at the workplace, when there is any significant change in the number of workers or where tasks, duties or processes have changed or new information becomes available which may affect the safety and health of people at the workplace.
The code also provides advice on the role of occupational health services and when they are appropriate.
As the code points out, communication is extremely important in getting first aid to an injured person in a workplace remote from available medical services. Consideration must be given to how first aid could be provided to remote workplaces and to highly mobile workers who work away from a central base. In an emergency, quick response is essential, therefore an effective and readily available means of communication must be provided.
The code also provides advice on reporting and recording systems, confidentiality of information, worker awareness and providing information in an appropriate form.
Training for first aiders
First aiders should be familiar with the specific conditions and hazards at the workplace and the types of injuries likely to require treatment. The number of first aiders at a workplace and the level of training needed should be determined according to the hazards identified at the workplace and the assessed risks.
The code provides detailed advice on the selection and training of first aiders, first aid boxes and what they should contain, responsibilities, first aid rooms, additional facilities, rescue and evacuation, and triage.