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First Aid Code of Practice:
A Quick and Easy Guide

Making sure you meet first aid regulations is essential for any workplace, but let’s be honest: it’s not the most exciting topic in the world. That’s where our new guide to the first aid code of practice comes in. “First Aid Code of Practice: A Quick and Easy Guide” is a great resource because it provides information you need to be first aid compliant in your business, but makes it easy and practical.

With six informative videos included, this guide is a valuable tool for anyone looking to ensure they are meeting their obligations under the first aid code of practice. So why not give it a read and start preparing your business for any potential emergencies today? After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry – or as we like to say, “It’s better to be alive than dead

What is the First Aid Code of Practice?

So imagine you’re at work, and Fred falls over, breaks his arm and starts bleeding. Where is the first aid kit? Is it close by? Is everything in the kit, or is something missing? Is the gear in good condition and ready to use, or is it old and out of date?

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In a situation like this, you want to ready, not only to help Fred, but also to protect yourself legally. That’s why its important to brush up on Safework Australia’s “First Aid Code of Practice. It’s a document that guides businesses on how to meet Australian standards for first aid in the workplace.

It gives advice on:

  • What goes into your kits
  • How to maintain them
  • Where to put your kits
  • and how many staff need training.

By following the guidelines outlined in the code of practice, businesses can protect themselves and their employees in the event of an emergency.

What Should go in a First Aid kit?

When someone needs help, it’s important to make sure that you have the right gear in your first aid kit. The first aid code of practice gives good advice on how to do that. What are two things you need to keep in mind?

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Basic equipment

Section 3.1 of the code gives a list of injuries that a first aid kit should provide equipment for. It should have items to deal with a variety of common injuries such as sprains and strains, minor burns, eye injuries, shock and more.

Why do you need to know this? Many cheap first aid kits from stores are designed for personal use, and often don’t contain these necessary items.

ust think about poor old Fred – if he trips and falls, a cheap kit probably won’t have the goods to patch him up properly. A cheap first aid kit may not have gauze to mop up blood, enough saline to clean the wound, and lack sufficient dressings and bandages to wrap it up properly.

So how do you know what a good kit to purchase is? Appendix E of the code suggests contents for first aid kits and shows you what items your kits should include. A number of kits from reputable manafacturers contain all the items in this list. Just look out for wording on the kit that it is code of practice approved.

The second thing to consider is Your risks

The code of practice encourages you to consider your risks when choosing equipment. Here’s an example:

Imagine you work in a factory that uses chemicals in open containers. Because there’s a big risk that chemicals could end up in your eyes, you might need an eye wash station and extra eye care supplies so that you’re ready for when that inevitable accident happens.

Or imagine you work for a business that regularly sends staff to work on farms in rural areas. Because a snakebite is a likely risk, it would be good to have additional items in your kit to help you deal with snakebite.

Appendix D of the code has an example of a risk assessment, and of course, when we visit businesses for our free first aid consults, our experts will be more than happy to assist you to identify your risks.

So, to recap: Make sure your kits have the required equipment suggested in the code of practice and have what you need to address your risks. That way when an emergency occurs, your kits will be first aid ready.

Restocking and Maintenance from the First Aid Code of Practice

Here’s the problem. One of your co-workers has a minor injury and you get the kit to treat them. When you open the kit, dust covers your hands. You look for the items you need but the kit is so messy they are hard to find. And when you find what you need, the saline expired a decade ago, and the band-aids have lost their sticky. No one’s sorted this kit out since the last time it was used!

Because of this, the first aid code of practice wants us to make sure our kits are well maintained. It recommends nominating a first aider in the workplace to do this. What would be some things a first aider would do to maintain a first aid kit?

After the kit is used, or at least every 12 months if it isn’t used, a kit should be checked over. First, you’ll want to replace anything that’s been used as soon as practical. You’ll also want to keep a list of required items and check that all the items are there.

Another thing to consider is the condition of the items. To make sure that the item is ready to use, they have expiry dates. You’ll need to replace anything that’s expired or soon will expire. Gear is often sealed to reduce the risk of infection so you’ll want to make sure that no items have been half opened, or used and then shoved back in.

We know that business owners are very busy, and it’s easy to leave this important job by the wayside, so what many business owners choose to do is to get us in to service the kits. Our team can go through all of your kits, checking the items and restocking them if needed.

Its worth it to check the kit is well organised so that when an emergency happens, things are easy to find and ready to go!

Where should you place first aid kits?

At one place we were training at, the staff weren’t sure where their first aid kit was. It ended up being in a random draw in an office. Why is that a problem? Time counts in an emergency, and you want kits to be as easy as possible to find and close to where potential injuries might occur. Here’s a few pieces of advice the first aid code of practice gives and some suggestions on how you might apply them.

The code says: First aid equipment and facilities should be located at convenient points and in areas where there is a higher risk of an injury or illness occurring.”

How could you apply this? Imagine Mandy runs a mechanical workshop and there is a reception area out the front. Mandy could keep the kit in reception, but where is an injury most likely to occur? In the workshop. How much better to keep a kit in the workshop instead.

Or imagine that at a school, one of the teachers named bill, has a high hereditary risk of sudden cardiac arrest. When choosing where to place a defibrillator, wouldn’t it be better to place it in an area closer to bill.

Something else to consider is the size of the workplace. The code says: Large workplaces may require first aid to be available in more than just one location. What may be some examples of this?

What if you have an office building with multiple floors, or work at a business that has multiple buildings on the premises. It would be good for workers in each area to have access to a kit in their own floor or building. What if workers head offsite for work. You may be required to get kits for each vehicle. As well as having enough kits and having them in the right place, you’ll want to make sure they are well signed, so that they can be easily located in an emergency.

When our team visit for free first aid consults, often we can give helpful advice and suggestions on how many kits you need and where to put them.

So to recap

  • Make sure that kits are where they are most needed
  • Make sure to have enough kits and have them clearly signed

What does the code of practice say about how many staff to train?

Being first aid ready isn’t just about having the right gear in the right place. You need to have staff ready and trained to help. So you might wonder: How many staff do I need to train? Section 3.5 of the code of practice gives good advice on what to do

First of all it recommends a minimum ratio of first aiders to workers in each business. For low risk workplaces- 1 in 50. For high risk workplaces- 1 in 25. For Remote high risk workplaces- 1 in 10

For many workplaces though, just having that minimum ratio isn’t enough. There’s more to consider. Here are 3 areas to think about. What are your work arrangements?

If you have multiple shifts, or workers work overtime, Are first aiders always available? If you have seasonal workers, do you have enough first aiders to meet that minimum ratio during your busy period. And, what if someone is on holidays or off sick for the day. Can someone fill in as a first aider?

Are there many members of the public at your workplace. At a shopping centre or hotel. you might need more than the minimum amount to care for the many members of the public at your premises.

What do your workers do? If workers are at a variety of locations, or perhaps they work alone, what can you do to make sure they are first aid ready? Should you get them trained, or is it more practical to just give them information and access to first aid assistance?

a cartoon of a woman reviewing the code of practice and selecting 6 first aiders for her project

Let’s see how Emma, a project manager might work out how many first aiders she needs. Emma’s construction project is high risk, so she needs to make sure one in 25 workers are first aiders. She has 25 staff on the project, so she designates one first aider. But that’s just not enough. Why? Emma’s project has 3 different shift rotations, she’ll need to train 3 first aiders, one for each shift. Here’s a problem though. What if one of the first aiders for each shift is sick or goes on holidays. What if one of those first aiders are injured? Who’ll provide first aid? Emma realises she will need a backup for each shift so she gets 6 trained.

Section 3.5 and appendix D contain more great advice on how to work out the number of staff you need to train. And of course, if you’re choosing a training provider, please consider us. You’ll love our practical and engaging training.

So to recap

  • Make sure that kits are where they are most needed
  • Make sure to have enough kits and have them clearly signed

Let’s Wrap Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed our videos. The first aid code of practice offers some great advice on what to include in your kit and how to assess your risks, but it can be overwhelming to sort through all the information on your own. That’s why we offer free first aid assessments for businesses. Our experts will help you identify your specific risks and ensure that your kit has everything you need to handle any emergency that may arise. Book your free assessment today and rest easy knowing you’re prepared for anything.