In July 2012 the First Aid in the Workplace – Code of Practice was approved under section 274 of the WHS Act. The approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations
Codes of Practice (COP) are admissible in court proceedings under the WHS Act and WHS Regulations. Courts may regard a COP as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control and may rely on the COP in determining what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to which the code relates.
An inspector may refer to an approved code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice
Under the WHS Act a PCBU has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.
The WHS Regulations place specific obligations on a PCBU in relation to first aid,
- Provide first aid equipment and ensure each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment
- Ensure access to facilities for the administration of first aid
- Ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid
A PCBU may not 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 all times that the workers carry out work.
Officers have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies
with the WHS Act and WHS Regulations. Officers must take reasonable steps to
ensure that the PCBU uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or
minimise risks to health and safety.
Likewise, workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and
safety and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers
must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable
policy or procedures relating to health and safety at the workplace, such as
procedures for first aid and for reporting injuries and illnesses.
Providing immediate and effective first aid to workers or others who have been
injured or become ill at the workplace may reduce the severity of the injury or illness
and promote recovery. In some cases it could mean the difference between life and
DETERMINING THE FIRST AID REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR WORKPLACE
The first aid requirements will vary from one workplace to another, depending on
the nature of the work, the type of hazards associated, the size and location, as
well as the number of people at the workplace. You need to use a risk management
approach to tailor first aid that suits the circumstances of your workplace, while also
providing the appropriate number of first aid kits, ensuring the contents of the first aid
kits and the number of trained first aiders is appropriate.
Is your workplace a high risk workplace where workers are exposed to hazards
that could result in serious injury or illness and would require first aid? Examples
where workplaces may be considered high risk are ones in which workers:
- Use hazardous machinery (e.g. mobile plant, chainsaws, power presses and lathes)
- Use hazardous substances (e.g. chemical manufacture, laboratories, horticulture, petrol stations and food manufacturing)
- Are at risk of falls that could result in serious injury (e.g. construction and stevedoring)
- Carry out hazardous forms of work (e.g. working in confined spaces, welding, demolition, electrical work and abrasive blasting)
- Are exposed to the risk of physical violence (e.g. working alone at night, cash handling and having customers who are frequently physically aggressive)
- Work in or around extreme heat or cold (e.g. foundries and prolonged outdoor work in extreme temperatures)
A low risk workplace is a workplace where workers are not exposed to hazards that
could result in serious injury or illness such as offices, shops or libraries. Potential
work related injuries and illnesses requiring first aid would be minor in nature.
Using a risk management approach, you need to:
- Identify hazards that could result in work-related injury or illness
- Assess the type, severity and likelihood of injuries and illness (reviewing accident and injury data can assist in this process)
Consult with your workers and other business operators within the workplace if you
share your workplace with other businesses to work out what first aid arrangements
are needed, such as:
- The number, location and contents of first aid kits and other equipment
- The type of first aid facilities that may be needed
- First aid procedures
- The number of first aiders
Certain work environments have greater risks of injury or illness due to the nature
of work being carried out and the nature of the hazards at the workplace. For
example, factories, motor vehicle workshops, and forestry operations have a
greater risk of injury that would require immediate medical treatment than low risk
environments such as offices. Therefore high risk work places require different first
- The size and location of the workplace also needs to be considered.
- The distance between different work areas
- The response times for emergency services
The number and composition of workers and other people at the workplace also
needs to be taken into account. When considering your workforce, you should also
include any contractors, subcontractors, and volunteers that you engage. You should
also consider any particular needs of workers who have a disability or a known
A large workplace may require first aid to be available in more than one location.
First aid equipment and facilities should be located at convenient points and in areas
where there is a higher risk of injury or illness occurring.
In minimising the risks to health and safety associated with remote or isolated areas,
you must provide a system of work that includes effective communication with the
worker. This would assist in enabling an immediate emergency response.
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