How to ensure first aid compliance in the workplace

Failure by businesses and their officers to provide applicable first aid equipment, facilities and training for staff may result in serious consequences, according to Safe Work Australia (SWA).

A SWA spokesperson told Pro Choice Safety Gear that the level of first aid required in the workplace varied between businesses and that a risk assessment should be carried out to determine requirements.

“The nature of the work, the type of hazards, the workplace size and location, as well as the number of people at the workplace [will determine the first aid requirements].”

They said that the SWA First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practiceprovides information on tailoring first aid to suit a business,” adding that it contains guidance on the number of first aid kits, their contents and the number of trained first aiders (a person who has the training, accreditation and competencies required to administer first aid) that are appropriate for various workplaces.

The code recommends that high risk workplaces – in which most blue collar industries fit – has one ‘first aider’ for every 25 workers.

It also states that every business must have at least one first aid kit, the contents of which should be based upon the risk assessment.

First Aid Risk Assessment


Step 1: Identify potential causes of workplace injury and illness.

Step 2: Assess the risk of workplace injury and illness. „

Step 3: What first aid is required?

Step 4: Review first aid to ensure effectiveness.

However that risk assessment and determining what is required to ensure compliance can be a complex task, according to a spokesperson for first aid training specialists, St John Ambulance Australia,

“First aid compliance is a complex area. It is not just a matter of buying a first aid kit and assuming staff will know what to do. Every employer should be striving for best practice when it comes to first aid,” the spokesperson said, adding that businesses need to empower their employees with the confidence to act.

“Administering first aid in the first five minutes after an incident can dramatically change theoutcome,” they added.

For those that don’t have the time or resources to understand the code, complete the risk assessment and implement the necessary changes, St John can help.

“We’ve simplified it for customers. We can arrange a first aid risk assessment of a workplace and from there we can determine their requirements,” the spokesperson said.

St John assesses the business to ensure it has enough trained first aiders and that there is accessible and visible first aid equipment, including defibrillators and signage, as well as the necessary first aid procedures and drills in place.

Based on industry experience and best practice in first aid, they usually recommend a higher number of trained first aiders and first aid kits than the Code, according to the spokesperson.

“If there is only one trained first aider in the workplace, what happens when they are on leave, away sick or injured? Who is then responsible for first aid?”

“Australian workplaces and employers need to act to reduce the risk to their employees, customers and ultimately their businesses.”

SWA First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice

The Code is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, according to the St John spokesperson.

“Victoria and WA do not participate in the harmonised Code of Practice and follow state guidelines however every workplace has a duty of care to provide a safe working environment and ensure that they are First Aid Ready in case of an emergency.”


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