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Can you be liable for administering first aid?

Q: We would like some clarity regarding the potential liability of administering first aid in the workplace. Can you please inform us of the relevant legislative (or other) instrument that deals with this and provide some general advice? We are located in Queensland.

A: The provision of first aid is an essential part of your duty as an employer to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your workers. It should be provided to an injured person until either:

(a) the injured person recovers; or

(b) more advanced care arrives.

First aid requirements in your workplace will differ depending on:

  • the types of hazards in your workplace;
  • the size of your workplace;
  • the location of your workplace; and
  • the number of people you employ.

The Work Health and Safety Regulations (specifically, regulation 42 of the Queensland Regulations) impose a duty on a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to provide:

  • first aid equipment in the workplace;
  • all workers with access to that equipment; and
  • all workers with access to facilities for the administration of first aid.

In terms of liability for administering first aid, most jurisdictions have ‘good Samaritan’ laws that provide protection from liability for a person who offers aid or assistance to an injured person, even if it did unintentional harm.

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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