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Can we ask employees whether they require specific medication?

Q: Can we ask employees whether they require specific medication, such as EpiPens and asthma medication? We would like to know so that we can equip our office first aid kit with the right medications, in case of emergency.

A: As an employer, you have a duty to ensure the health and safety of your workers. Clause 42 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations (WHS Regulations) imposes a duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to provide:

  • first aid equipment;
  • access to that equipment;
  • access to facilities for administering first aid; and
  • access to an adequate number of trained first aiders.

You may request workers to volunteer information on any allergies or health conditions that may require first aid. However, you cannot compel workers to provide medical information unless it is a lawful and reasonable request. Requesting private medical information would not be reasonable unless it is related to the inherent requirements of the role.

In the event that your workers choose to notify you of any requirement for an EpiPen or other emergency medication, you will need to consult with them on where they would like to store their medication and make this known to first aiders.

You may choose to duplicate this medication and make it available elsewhere in

the workplace in the event of a first aid emergency. However, as this is prescription medication, it will be incumbent on the worker to provide these to you and they must only be used for that worker.

You will also need to notify your workplace first aiders of the location of any EpiPens or other emergency medication and provide first aiders with appropriate training to administer it.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to First aid for current advice.

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