Your questions answered: Are we required to have a first aider in an office environment?

By Portner Press on October 31st, 2019
  1. Fire, Emergency & Incidents
  2. First aid in the workplace

Q
Is it a legal requirement that we have a first aid officer within an office environment? Our organisation is based in NSW.
A
In addition to the general duty for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others at the workplace under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (Act), the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (Cth) (Regulation) places specific obligations on PCBUs to:

  • provide first aid equipment and make sure each worker has access to equipment;
  • ensure access to facilities to administer first aid;
  • ensure an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of people who are trained in first aid; and
  • ensure workers are aware of information and know how to carry out first aid (section 42).

Codes of Practice provide practical guidance on how a duty holder may discharge their obligations under the Act and the Regulation.

While not mandatory, the Code of Practice can be used in proceedings regarding what is known about a risk and risk controls in determining the reasonably practicable steps that a duty holder could have taken to discharge their duty of care.

Should a duty holder not follow an approved Code of Practice, they must be able to demonstrate that compliance with the Act and Regulation has been achieved by means of a method that provides equivalent of higher standard of control than the Code of Practice.

The NSW approved Code of Practice First Aid in the Workplace outlines the number of first aiders low, high and remote high risk workplaces should have.

This includes one first aider for every 50 workers in low-risk workplaces, and one first aider for every 25 workers in high-risk workplaces. A low-risk workplace is one where workers are not exposed to hazards that could result in serious injury or illness, including office environments.

It is possible, through consultation and cooperation that you may share first aiders with other PCBUs at your workplace (see pages 16-17 of the Code of Practice).

A copy of the Code of Practice can be accessed here: https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/52152/First-aid-in-the-workplace-COP.pdf

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