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First Aid Obligations For Workplaces

Posted by Simone Poulter | Jan 29, 2024 12:48:43 PM

The average person will spend approximately 90,000 hours, or one third of their life, at work. Businesses are required to ensure (under the WHS Act) that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. Specific obligations includes:

  • Provision of emergency equipment such as nurse call systems, defibrillators, first aid kits, and emergency alert communication devices (evacuation sirens)
  • Ease of access to these facilities;  for example they can't be in a locked room or limited security space within the building
  • An adequate number of workers 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

Management have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business is complying with regulations. Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and must not
adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Everyone on site must comply with any
reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to
health and safety at the workplace, such as procedures for first aid and for reporting injuries
and illnesses. 


Workplaces are obligated to provide adequate first aid facilities and equipment in the workplace. This includes items such as first aid kits, eyewash stations, and emergency response plans. The type and quantity of first aid equipment required are determined by factors like the size of the workforce, the nature of work activities, and potential hazards. If the work environment is dangerous, evacuation systems, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, evacuation sirens, and other equipment that can assist workers on site to mobilise quickly might be included. Nurse call systems - where a worker triggers an alert that's sent to emergency response personnel - might be placed in common areas. There's numerous lone worker SOS wearables on the market which can be integrated as part of a cohesive approach to worker safety.

Training and Documentation

Employers must ensure that their employees have access to appropriate first aid training. This can vary depending on the workplace's specific needs and hazards. Training should cover a range of first aid techniques, from basic CPR to more advanced skills like using defibrillators or treating burns. Regular refresher training is also recommended to keep skills up to date.

This should be part of the well-documented first aid policies and procedures you have in place, which is essential to compliance and impacts incident reporting and analysis. These documents should outline the responsibilities of first aid officers, the location of first aid equipment, and the steps to be taken in case of an emergency. Clear communication and awareness of these policies are crucial for effective first aid response.

Vanguard Wireless offer comprehensive in person and phone inductions, plus training materials and videos once a system is installed or delivered to site. Additional training can be delivered if your safety teams change. 

Appointed First Aid Officers

In an emergency it can be easy to panic. One of the key obligations for employers is the appointment of trained first aid officers. These individuals must hold a current first aid certificate, which is typically valid for three years. The number of first aid officers required depends on the size and nature of the workplace. For example, a larger workplace with a higher risk of injuries may need more first aid officers than a smaller, low-risk environment.

St Johns Ambulance Australia provides a full range of best practice certified, customised and online first aid training with flexible delivery options available throughout Australia. St John can also assess your first aid workplace needs by arranging a Best Practice First Aid Readiness assessment.

Recording and Reporting

Accurate recording and reporting of workplace injuries and incidents are mandatory. Employers are required to keep records of all first aid treatments provided, no matter how minor. This information can be invaluable for assessing workplace safety and identifying areas for improvement. Vanguard Wireless emergency alert systems store event information in the cloud for reporting and process improvement. This includes the type of event that was triggered, when and where it was triggered, who responded to the event (and when), and what medical emergency happened. We also report on system information so if a device isn't working as it should, you can understand what the problem is and why it occurred (plus who was told about it!).

Legal Responsibilities

It's important you stay abreast of what you responsibilities are. Australia has a robust legal framework in place to regulate first aid requirements in workplaces. The primary piece of legislation governing this area is the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), along with its associated regulations. Under the WHS Act, employers have a duty of care to provide a safe work environment, including access to first aid facilities and trained personnel.

Review and Continuous Improvement

It's important to regularly review your first aid procedures and equipment to ensure they remain effective. Factor in risks such as transient workforces, or having numerous contractors and sub contractors on site who may need training. Hosting toolbox talks, conducting drills, seeking feedback from employees, and updating first aid kits and equipment as needed are very important. For example, many defibrillator pads and adrenaline (Epinephrine) injectors have expiry dates so keeping a stocktake of these will save you time and ensure your equipment is up to date.


 Vanguard Wireless can design a nurse call and evacuation system that complements your emergency plans and first aid obligations.

Compliance with these obligations not only helps your business adhere to legal requirements but also fosters a culture of safety and well-being in the workplace, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. By prioritising first aid, Australian employers contribute to a safer, healthier, and more productive work environment for everyone.

Topics: medicalemergencies, safetyalertsystems, safetyregulation, evacuationsystems, nursecall, medicalalertsystems, evacuation, evacuationalarmsystems, healthandsafety, evacuationsiren, evacuationalarm, fireextinguisher, defibrillator, fireblanket, firealarm, firstaid

Written by Simone Poulter

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