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Should companies have to pay for their first aid officers’ training?

By Jeff Salton

The legal requirement for an employer to pay for first aid training is not covered by safety legislation but rather will depend on any applicable modern award, enterprise agreement or contractual provision related to first aid compensation.

But, as Health & Safety Handbook Editor-in-Chief Michael Selinger points out, the employer has a duty to ensure that there are trained first aid officers in the organisation.

“This usually means, as a practical matter, that the employer has to pay for the training as they usually request volunteers to be first aid officers,” says Michael.

Some modern awards and enterprise agreements specifically provide for a first aid allowance, which may include a requirement for employers to remunerate certain employees for first aid training.

“It should be noted,” says Michael, “that if an organisation directs these employees to attend a first aid course then this will be deemed as paid time. This is because the employee’s role will be for the benefit of the organisation, which is not within the scope of the employee’s usual work routine.”

How often do first aid officers need to complete CPR training?

The answer to this will depend on the Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that an employee has received their training from and its individual requirements. Michael says most RTOs’ CPR component is valid for one year, which will need to be updated annually for a first aid officer to keep their certification current.

“As employers need to ensure that the qualifications of first aid officers are current, it is good practice to remind and encourage your first aid officers to complete their annual CPR refresher training,” he says.

Some jurisdictions, such as SafeWork SA, recommend that CPR training should be completed yearly by adopting Safe Work Australia’s First Aid in the Workplace: Code of Practice, which may be accessed at the health and safety regulator website in your jurisdiction.

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