Having the right medical stores in your workplace can and has saved lives. This is why SafeWork have developed a Code of Practice for First aid in the workplace.
Who has health and safety duties in relation to first aid?
Duty holders who have a role in first aid include:
- persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs)
- designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers of plant, substances or structures; and
Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)
A PCBU must ensure:
- provision of first aid equipment
- each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment
- access to facilities for administering first air; and
- an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid, or workers have access to an adequate number of people who have been trained to administer first aid
A PCBU may net need to provide first aid equipment or facilities if these are already provided by another duty holder at the workplace and they are adequate and easily accessible at the times the workers carry out work.
What is required in providing first aid?
First aid requirements will vary from one workplace to the next depending on the nature of the work, the types of hazards, the workplace size and location as well as the number of people at the workplace. These factors must be taken into account when deciding what first aid arrangements are provided.
How to determine first aid requirements for your workplace.
Certain work environments have greater risks of injury and illness due to the nature of work being carried out and the nature of the hazards in the workplace.
The table below identifies injuries associated with common workplace hazards that may require first aid.
|Manual tasks||Overexertion can cause muscular strain|
|Working at heights or on uneven or slippery surfaces||Slips, trips and falls can cause fractures, bruises, lacerations, dislocations, concussion|
|Electricity||Potential ignition source – could cause injuries from fire. Exposure to live electrical wires can cause shock, burns or cardiac arrest|
|Machinery and equipment||Being hit by moving vehicles or being caught by moving parts of machinery can cause fractures, amputation, bruises, lacerations, dislocations|
|Hazardous chemicals||Toxic or corrosive chemicals may be inhaled or may contact skin or eyes causing poisoning, chemical burns, irritation.|
Flammable chemicals could result in injuries from fire or explosion.
|Extreme temperatures||Hot surfaces and materials can cause burns|
Working in extreme heat can cause heat-related illness. It can also increase the risks by reducing concentration and increasing fatigue and chemical uptake into the body.
Exposure to extreme cold can cause hypothermia and frostbite.
|Radiation||Welding arc flashes, ionising radiation and lasers can cause burns.|
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause skin cancers and eye damage.
|Violence||Behaviours including intimidation and physical assault can cause both physical and psychological injuries|
|Biological||Infection, allergic reactions|
|Animals||Bites, stings, kicks, crush injuries, scratches|
Records of injuries, illnesses, “near miss” incidents and other information will be useful when making decisions about first aid requirements.
You should take into account:
- the distance between work areas; and
- the response times for emergency services
A large workplace may require first aid to be available in more than one location if:
- work is being carried out a long distance from emergency services
- workers are dispersed over a wide area
- access to a party of the workplace is difficult; or
- the workplace has more than one floor level.
There are other factors to consider but go beyond the scope of this newsletter. For further information please contact our office.
First aid kits
All workers must be able to access a first aid kit. This requires at least one first aid kit to be provided at the workplace.
The first aid kit should provide basic equipment for administering first aid for injuries including:
- cuts, scratches, punctures, grazes and splinters
- muscular sprains and strains
- minor burns
- amputations and/or major bleeding wounds
- broken bones
- eye injuries, and
The contents of your first aid kit should be based on a risk assessment which may identify higher risk levels for certain operations.
In the event of a serious injury or illness quick access to the first aid kit is vital. First aid kits should be kept in a prominent, accessible location where they can be retrieved quickly.
Restocking and maintaining kits
A person in the workplace, usually a first aider should be nominated to maintain the first aid kit and should:
- monitor the usage of first aid kit and ensure items used are replaced as soon as possible after use
- carry out regular checks after each use or if the kit is not used at least once every 12 months to ensure the kit contains a complete set of the required items. An inventory list in the kit should be signed and dated after each check; and
- ensure items are in working order, have not deteriorated are within their expiry dates and sterile products are sealed and have not been tampered with.
Number one recommendation to check your first aid kit…you do have one don’t you? The best recommendation we can give is that if you’re unsure about what you need go to a first aid supplier who can then advise you about your requirements.
They can then either upgrade your existing kit or provide you with one that meets your specific requirements.
If you need further information on workplace medical requirements please feel free to contact our office or if you would like an example of contents for first aid kits in the workplace please contact our office