When determining the first aid requirements of your workplace you are required to use a risk management approach (Clause 42, WHS Regulations). And the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice: First Aid in the Workplace has a great deal of valuable guidance on how to do that and satisfy your first aid requirements.
That guidance includes you deciding if your workplace is a low or a high risk workplace. It is important to know because it affects what you should do about 3 of the key first aid requirements.
This article is written to help anyone with first aid obligations or responsibilities, and HSRs or Health & Safety Committee members, understand and verify that these 3 key first aid requirements are satisfied in your workplace.
Is your workplace a low or high risk workplace?
The answer to this question is our starting point. And the distinction between a low risk and a high risk workplace is fairly clear. The definition of low and high risk is set out below from page 3 of the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice: First Aid in the Workplace:
“Low risk workplace means 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.
High risk workplace means a workplace where workers are exposed to hazards that could result in serious injury or illness and would require first aid. Examples of workplaces that may be considered high risk are ones in which workers:
- Use hazardous machinery (for example mobile plant, chainsaws, power presses and lathes)
- Use hazardous substances (for example, chemical manufacture, laboratories, horticulture, petrol stations and food manufacturing)
- Are at risk of falls that could result in serious injury (for example, construction and stevedoring)
- Carry out hazardous forms of work (for example, working in confined spaces, welding, demolition, electrical work and abrasive blasting)
- Are exposed to the risk of physical violence (for example, working alone at night, cash handling or having customers who are frequently physically aggressive)
- Work in or around extreme heat or cold (for example, foundries and prolonged outdoor work in extreme temperatures) “
Three of the Key First Aid Requirements
1. The Number of Trained First Aiders
The Code of Practice at page 13 recommends the following:
“Low risk workplaces - one first aider for every 50 workers’
High risk workplaces – one first aider for every 25 workers”
However the Code also goes on to recommend 5 steps to consider about your workplace before settling on the most appropriate number of first aiders you should have.
2. Types of First Aid Training
At page 12 of the Code of Practice tells us that
“In low risk workplaces, first aiders are sufficiently trained if they can perform CPR and treat minor illnesses and injuries.”
The Code then recommends additional nationally recognised training that suit could suit types high risk situations.
3. First Aid Room
Do you have to have a first aid room? The Code of Practice at page 10 tells us that:
“A first aid room should be established at the workplace if a risk assessment indicates that it would be difficult to administer appropriate first aid unless a first aid room is provided.”
“A first aid room is recommended for:
Low risk workplaces with 200 workers or more
High risk workplaces with 100 workers or more”
Other First Aid Requirements
This article does not cover all the first aid requirements in the Code. We recommend that all the valuable guidance in the Code be compared with what happens in your workplace. For example the content of first aid kits and other first aid equipment is dependent upon you doing a risk assessment of hazards in your workplace.
This Code of Practice on first aid in the workplace is an approved code of practice under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act (the WHS Act). An approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety Regulations (the WHS Regulations).