How would you cope in an emergency?
1 in 3 people do not know what to do in an emergency in the workplace. It’s an alarming statistic and it could be a matter of life or death.
If someone suddenly became ill or was injured in the workplace, are you sure your staff would know what to do?
All employers in Queensland have an obligation to provide first aid training for their workplace but many businesses aren’t sure what is required so we’ve teamed up with St John Ambulance Queensland for some advice on first aid essentials.
We asked our members to share their questions about first aid in the workplace. The highly-skilled first aid experts at St John Ambulance Queensland shared some insights including first aid compliance, training, risk assessment, equipment, and products:
1. Should I complete First Aid assessment?
Yes. By completing a first aid risk assessment, you should be able to identify some of the potential risks within your workplace. Afterwards, safety risks should be highlighted to you and you’ll consider what to do to minimise them along with your first aid needs.
2. What should I consider when completing the risk assessment?
Initial risk assessments are crucial. Consider the potential hazards as this may determine what advice and arrangements need to be put in place. To help you decide what first aid equipment, facilities and training are needed, you must consider:
- how likely an injury may occur and how serious it might be
- past injuries, illnesses and ‘near miss’ information either in your workplace or what may have been reported in similar workplaces.
- companies in similar industries and what first aid equipment they supply and scenarios they may have encountered.
A city office will differ considerably from an outdoor worksite, so it is vital to be aware of that first aid requirements vary from one workplace to another. Carry out risk assessments regularly to assess any changes in the workplace.
3. Do I have to provide a First Aid Officer?
Yes. You must train an adequate number of workers to administer first aid in your workplace or your workers have access to an adequate number of trained first aiders.
First aid can be provided by a worker or non-worker if they have been trained and are easily accessible however, if first aid facilities provided by others nearby are available like in retail shopping centres, offices, libraries and galleries, it may not be necessary for a small business to provide their own first aid officer.
4. How should I identify or contact my first aid officer?
There are many ways you can identify or contact your first aid officer:
- Establish clear signs at the first aid officer’s workstation.
- A high visibility hat or item of clothing for the first aid officer if they are moving around the worksite. See AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 – high visibility safety garments.
- A mobile phone or two-way radio.
- Signage around the workplace to ensure workers know the first aid officers, how to recognise them and how to call for help in an emergency.
5. How many First Aid Officers are required?
Low-risk workplaces may only need one first aid officer for every 50 workers, where high-risk ones may need one first aid officer for every 25 workers.
Work out if your workplace is at risk by using a first aid risk assessment. Consider the number of people who may be at your workplace at any one time, including workers, contractors, subcontractors, volunteers and visitors with the type of work taking place, and any associated risks.
6. What qualifications do First Aid Officers need?
At a minimum, first aid officers should hold a current first aid certificate (Provide First Aid) and the skills and knowledge to treat someone immediately until, if necessary, further help arrives.
A trained first aider will need to hold a nationally recognised statement of attainment from a registered training organisation.
Some workplaces may require more specific or advanced first aid training depending on the workplace and what risk factors workers may be exposed to.
7. Who pays for the training?
If a worker is required to undergo training as part of their employment, it is expected that this cost would be met by the workplace.
First aiders should attend training on a regular basis, so their knowledge and skills are kept up-to-date.
8. What should be in a First Aid kit?
The contents of first aid kits need to be appropriate for your workplace, and this will depend on:
- size, layout and location of the workplace
- number of workers
- types of hazards
- how likely it is someone might get hurt
- the type and seriousness of injuries
- known occurrence of incidents or illnesses.
It needs to be:
- immediately identifiable
- fit all the contents easily
- easily accessible and unlocked
- made of a material which protects the contents from dust, moisture and contamination.
A person in the workplace (usually the first aid officer) should be nominated to maintain the first aid kit and make sure any items are replaced as soon as possible after use, and that items remain within their use by date.
9. Should medications be included in a First Aid kit?
No however in some circumstances for example, if work is done in remote locations where medical attention is not readily available and after completing the first aid risk assessment, you might want to include some limited medications in the first aid kit.
Medications are not typically included in first aid kits for the following reasons:
- Dispensing medication could harm a patient if used inappropriately
- Medications could interact with others the injured person is already taking
- a first aider is not a medical provider and should not be required to make decisions about medications to be administered in any emergency.
- First aid is about the immediate treatment or care given to a person suffering from an injury or illness until more advanced care is provided or until the person makes a full recovery.
10. Is a First Aid room required?
A first aid room is not needed in all workplaces.
If a small business is located within a larger building or complex where there is easy access to a first aid room, it may be possible for them to access these services rather than supply their own. If they couldn’t access them, however, then they’d need to make sure suitable facilities were supplied for their workers.
What does the first aid room need to have?
The Code outlines the basic requirements if a first aid room is required in a workplace. A first aid room should:
- be big enough to provide any appropriate immediate medical treatment
- be well-lit and ventilated
- be easily accessible to those who are injured or who may need to be supported by a stretcher or wheelchair
- have easy access to toilets and running water
- not be used for any other purpose
- remain under the control of the first aid officer who has been trained and holds the appropriate skills and knowledge
11. What needs to happen with incident reports?
A record of any first aid treatment given needs to be kept by the first aid officer and a copy provided to management for review of any first aid arrangements.
Records of notifiable incidents must be kept for at least five years from the date of the notification.
Some workplace incidents must be notified to the Work Health and Safety regulator immediately after becoming aware of the incident. If you are unsure of whether the incident should be reported, contact your local regulator and they will be able to help you further.
Incidents can happen in the workplace, whenever, wherever and mostly without warning. If you plan, prepare, then you and your staff can perform when the pressure is on.
St John Ambulance (Qld) offer recommendations on what sort of first aid you might need to think about for your workplace. Depending on your business, you will need fully-stocked first aid kits and possibly a first aid room at your workplace. This is where St John Ambulance (Qld) can step in to help regarding stocking and maintenance.
Take the time to understand your obligations regarding law surrounding first aid in the workplace, check out clause 42 of the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011. The Code has practical information about working out your first aid requirements, equipment, facilities and training needs. There are also general work health and safety laws about first aid these will be found in the Code of Practice: First Aid in the Workplace.
If you have any doubts, St John Ambulance (Qld) suggest you contact an expert.