From a news blog by Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors:
A report titled “First Aid Readiness in the Australian Workplace” (2013) released by St. John Ambulance earlier this year reveals only 13 per cent of Australian workplaces know how to keep their employees safe and only around 53 per cent of Australian workplaces offer accredited training for first aid officers. With 6 of the 8 Australian States and Territories now having adopted the Model Work Health and Safety Legislation it’s important to make sure your business is complying with its obligations to provide a safe workplace for all your employees and visitors. Unfortunately, there are no bandaid solutions to safety.
What does this mean for your business?
Ensuring staff have access to first aid is a measure that can sometimes be overlooked by employers. In practice ensuring that staff have access to first aid is a valuable step toward ensuring that the organisation has taken steps toward providing a safe workplace. Employers should examine the size and needs of their operations to check whether staff will have access to first aid in the event of an injury or accident.
WHS Laws and first aid officers
One way you can provide a safe workplace is to ensure you have the right number of employees trained in first aid. The Model WHS Regulations require you to ensure ‘an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first-aid or workers have access to an adequate number of other persons who have been trained.’
6 of the 8 Australian States and Territories have adopted the Model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Legislation:
(* Note: Western Australia and Victoria have not yet adopted the Model WHS Legislation. Western Australia is likely to introduce new legislation in early 2014.) The Model WHS Regulations adopted by each of these states require you to ensure ‘an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first-aid or workers have access to an adequate number of other persons who have been trained.’
Safe Work Australia has published a code of practice - “First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice” that provides further information about first aid officers including giving recommendations for the ratio of first aid officers to employees. This code of practice has been adopted in the majority of the States and Territories which have adopted the Model WHS Legislation. The Safe Work Australia Code of Practice recommends the following ratios:
- in a low risk environment (such as an office): 1 first aid officer for every 50 employees;
- in a high risk environment (such as a manufacturing plant): 1 first aid officer for every 25 employees.
It is important to keep in mind that there may be other factors unique to your workplace which may require you to adjust these figures. For instance, due to the size of a particular workplace, it may be more feasible for the business to ensure that employees have access to first aid on the work premises rather than focus on first aid officers where this is impracticable. Advice should be sought in these circumstances.
Learn about Barringtons First Aid Courses here.
Blayne Webb, Director, Barringtons