Do You Have Enough First Aid Officers?

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Monday, April 21st, 2014
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What’s in your kit first aid is only part of the story. It’s just as important to ensure you have adequate first aid officer, those on the ‘front line’ if there is an accident.

While the kit itself is important, it is also necessary to provide adequate facilities which can handle whatever demands might be placed on First Aiders in the event of a major accident.

Amongst the facilities and additional equipment featured in the Model WHS legislation are:

  • Automatic defibrillators
  • Eye wash stations
  • Showers (depending on workplace)
  • Health centre or first aid room (depending on workplace and staff numbers)

There is now a stronger onus on the business officer – or person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) – to ensure the workplace has adequate First Aid facilities, equipment and trained personnel.

It is also now a requirement for every workplace to have a properly trained First Aider on site at all times. First Aiders have to report directly to the PCBU, but their role is arguably the most important.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Taking reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • Taking reasonable care not to adversely affect the health and safety of others
  • Complying with any reasonable instructions given by the PCBU to allow him or her to comply with his or her duties
  • Co-operating with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety in the workplace

Having enough First Aiders to deal with the staff numbers is also a key component to complying with the new legislation. The number required at any one time depends on the type of work. For example, in low-risk workplaces such as an office, one First Aider is required for every 50 workers; while in a high-risk workplaces (like a manufacturing complex), one is needed for every 25 workers.

Make Sure Staff Members Are Properly Trained

Staff can only be considered First Aiders if they hold nationally recognised ‘Statements of Attainment’ after completing an endorsed First Aid unit of competency, but the type of training is significant too.

The choice of First Aid Training courses include:

  • Apply First Aid – trains staff to recognise and respond to common life-threatening injuries or illnesses, including CPR, and to manage the casualty and incident until the arrival of medical or other assistance. In low risk workplaces, First Aiders need only know how to perform CPR and treat minor illnesses and injuries.
  • Apply Advanced First Aid – trains staff in additional competencies required to apply advanced first aid procedures. Suitable for some high risk workplaces.
  • Manage First Aid in the Workplace (Occupational First Aid) – trains staff to apply advanced first aid procedures and to manage a first aid room.
  • Provide First Aid in Remote Situations – trains staff to administer first aid in a remote and/or isolated situation, including preparing for aero-medical evacuation. Suitable for high risk workplaces where emergency services are a distance away.

First Aiders are also expected to undertake CPR refresher courses annually, and to renew their qualifications every three years. They may also need to be trained to respond to specific situations at their workplace – for example, where workers may have severe allergies to commonly used substances.

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