First-aid compliance in the workplace

Red Cross
Thursday, 27 November, 2014

The importance of first aid in the workplace cannot be overstated. In the event of an accident or medical emergency, the application of first aid can mean the difference between life and death.

While almost everyone is aware of the importance of first aid and the necessity of first-aid training, the scope and breadth of work health and safety (WHS) regulations - and the variation in regulations between different states - can make it difficult for organisations to keep their first-aid procedures current and compliant.

How do you achieve first-aid compliance?

Organisations are required by law to have first-aid procedures in place. Released in 2012 was the First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice, which sought to harmonise compliance under the federal Work Health & Safety Act 2011. To date, all states have adopted the code except WA and Victoria, though they are expected to adopt it in the future.

While these regulatory revisions have made it somewhat easier for organisations to achieve compliance and identify gaps in knowledge, many industries are still familiarising themselves with the changes and there can be some confusion about what requirements exactly have changed.

When regulatory changes are introduced, organisations often assume that compliance with old regulations means they are compliant with the new ones. However, codes and regulations are updated to reflect new understanding of risks and occupational safety, and any company that does not make the necessary updates to their procedures in accordance with new regulations is vulnerable to disciplinary action.

An effective way to determine if your workplace is compliant is to complete a workplace first-aid ‘health check’. These are different to risk assessments and compliance audits, which are carried out by certified inspectors; rather, a health check helps an organisation self-identify areas where there is a potential gap in knowledge and the kind of training required.

First-aid training 10-point health check

In completing this health check, whether you are able to answer these questions at all is just as important as what the answer is. If you are unsure how to respond, it is likely there is a procedural or operational gap which needs to be addressed. Receiving the right advice will lead you to implement a solution to close the gap and often includes a mix of training, procedural updates and ongoing consultation in order to achieve and remain in compliance.

  1. Under WHS legislation, is your organisation classified as a low, medium or high risk?
  2. Does your first-aid room meet current standards?
  3. Do you have a qualified first aider on site during all operating hours?
  4. Do you have an analgesics register and are you aware of guidelines for administration?
  5. Are you aware of the most common on-site injuries in your workplace?
  6. Are there people who work at home or have company vehicles?
  7. Do you have contractors/subcontractors/volunteers on site?
  8. Do you know the minimum number of first-aid kits you are required to have at all sites?
  9. Is first aid part of your induction process for contractors, visitors and staff?
  10. Do you keep oxygen on site and, if so, is it clearly marked?

Selecting the right training provider

Training must be provided by a certified registered training organisation (RTO) to be considered compliant. Prospective providers should work with an organisation to identify their needs and tailor a program to their specific needs, risk level and organisational requirements.

First-aid training provider Red Cross has been operating in Australia since 1914. It provides consultancy and workplace reviews to assist organisations in identifying the risks present in their workplace, what needs to be done to meet first-aid compliance obligations and the training required for their specific workplace and the risks it presents. Its range of nationally recognised and compliant first-aid training packages and products can ensure your workplace receives good WHS support.

Its extensive experience and presence nationwide allows Red Cross to provide single-point account management for organisations with offices in different states that may be subject to region-specific solutions. A company can organise and commission training through one central point with full confidence that employees in each workplace will receive training and products to ensure legislated requirements are met.

Red Cross also offers blended learning options, where training can be delivered either on-site, off-site or in a blended e-learning format to facilitate learning and engagement with good outcomes for individuals and the business. In addition, specialist training in Occupational First Aid, Advanced First Aid and Remote First Aid is offered, along with Mental Health First Aid training, which can help managers reduce the severity of mental health issues for employees and provide appropriate support.

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