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How to Ensure You Have an “Adequate Number” of Trained First Aiders

The WHS Regulations (reg 42) requires every PCBU to have an “adequate” number of trained first aiders. But how can you ensure that your workplace has an “adequate number”?

It requires more than simply using a ratio depending on whether you have a “low risk workplace” or a “high risk workplace”.

This article explains how to satisfy the Regulation and work out what the “adequate number” is for your workplace.

1. What the WHS Regulation Requires

“A person conducting a business or undertaking must 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.” (Reg. 42)

2. How to Work Out the Adequate Number

A. The Ratio

The First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice recommends:

- “low risk workplaces – one first aider for every 50 workers

- high risk workplaces – one first aider for every 25 workers”.

You can see how to work out if your workplace is ‘low” or “high risk” at this Courtenell article link

B. Other Factors

The ratio number is just the starting point. The Code of Practice recommends that; “ The number and type of trained first aiders can be further refined by following the five-step guide below:

Step 1: Identify the maximum number of workers at the workplace at any one time.

Step 2: Consider the nature of the work being carried out at the workplace and determine if your workers are at a high risk of being exposed to hazards that could require immediate first aid treatment.

Step 3: Determine if the workplace is remote or if access to emergency services is difficult. “High risk” workplaces that do not have timely access to medical and ambulance services should have at least one first aider for every 10 workers.

Step 4: Consider the variety of ways that your workers carry out work, for example:

- if a worker spends most, if not all, of their time working alone and in transit i.e. their workplace is their vehicle and the places they visit in the course of their work (for example, couriers, taxi drivers, sales representatives, door-to-door charity collectors and inspectors)

- if a worker’s location varies on a regular basis and they often work without supervision (for example, tradespeople, construction workers in the housing industry, farm hands and cleaners)

- if a worker sometimes works alone for relatively short periods of time (for example, when opening or closing a business for trade or working back late to meet a deadline).

In these situations, it may not be practicable to have a first aider available at all times at the workplace. However, these workers must be able to access first aid assistance, for example by ensuring they are provided with:

- an effective means of contacting emergency services or first aiders

- information, instruction and training on how to respond if a serious injury or illness occurs.

Step 5: Before finalising the number of first aiders your workers require access to, consider if there are any other factors that indicate that your workplace needs additional first aiders, for example:

- the arrangement of work (multiple shifts or overtime)

- seasonal work, where there may be a sudden and significant increase or decrease in the number of workers

- where there are large numbers of other persons present on a regular basis (e.g. schools, shopping centres, hotels and function centres)

- workplaces that have unique hazards such as fitness centres, amusement rides and dive schools

- access during times when a first aider is absent (e.g. annual leave)”.

3. Keep Records & Review

Keep a record of the steps you followed and review regularly or when there are significant changes in the matters covered by these steps.

Click on the links below to download the course outlines:

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