One of the most vital aspects of health and safety in the workplace is being able to attend to an injury as quickly as possible.
In the event of an incident or accident happening on site, you need to have someone appointed to administer first aid.
This is a subject we touched on briefly a few months ago, so this is going to be more of a deep dive into first aid.
The amount of first aiders you have varies according to risk, so it’s important to know what applies to your industry.
While you still need to get an injured or ill staff member to a hospital to get appropriate medical attention, first aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries from becoming major issues.
It’s important to understand that first aid is not a replacement for professional medical attention, but simple and fast interim medical aid to help someone who has been hurt or fallen ill until it’s possible to get them seen by a medical professional.
An Australian construction site is one of the most dangerous places to be. There is an often unseen but very real risk of injury and death. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the laws that apply to first aid in Australia.
What is First Aid?
First aid is the process of providing simple medical care for a person’s injuries, illness, or other health problems. Also known as “first response”, the basic principles of first aid are to provide immediate care, and stop further injury or damage from occurring, while ongoing treatment for the injured person is being sought.
First aid is the term used to describe the medical assistance given to persons in need of help and care. It is a generic term used to describe any form of medical care that is rendered to a person in need, including those rendered by a practitioner, a professional, or an individual.
The main aims of first aid are to:
- Preserve life
- Prevent illness or injury from becoming worse
- Relieve pain, if possible
- Promote recovery
- Protect the unconscious
What Goes Into a First Aid Kit?
A first aid kit is a collection of supplies and equipment that are essential to provide medical attention when needed.
It will generally hold basic supplies like bandages, band-aids, and other things used for small injuries or abrasions, but what goes into a kit can vary depending on the industry, work site, and the state you’re in.
While the appointed first aider is the main person to make use of the first aid kit, all workers should be able to access the kit. There needs to be at least one first aid kit available, but you may need to provide more, depending on the size and type of site.
In the event of a serious injury or illness, quick access to the first aid kit is vital. The kit should be kept in an accessible location and /or close to areas where there is a higher risk of injury or illness.
Each first aid kit should hold the basic equipment necessary to administer first aid. It should have items to treat cuts and grazes, scratches and punctures, muscular strains, sprains, bleeding wounds, broken bones, eye injuries, shock, and burns.
Depending on the type of worksite and the location, extra equipment may be needed if the site is remote or a long distance from a hospital or other medical facility. For example, serious burns, breathing difficulties or allergic reactions will need more extensive treatment, so the equipment and training need to be in place.
The size of the kit isn’t important, but it does need to be easily accessible, immediately identifiable, be made of a material to keep the contents free of dust and moisture, and contain a list of contents. It should be noted that some items might have expiry dates on them, so it’s important to make sure they’re replaced as needed.
Portable First Aid Kits
For staff not based in an office or on a fixed work site, you should provide a portable kit to be kept in their vehicles.
The kit needs to be safely stowed so as not to become a projectile in the event of a collision.
First Aid Kit Maintenance
The first aid kits need to be maintained, so it’s best to nominate someone to be responsible for doing so.
These duties will include monitoring the usage of the items, restocking as needed, ensuring sterile items remain sealed and that they haven’t deteriorated, and making sure that nothing within the kit has expired.
This should be done regularly to make sure the first aid kits are ready for use at any given moment.
Equipment and First Aid Facilities
There may be other necessary equipment for first aid use, depending on what other risks you may need to consider for your workplace.
In the trade industry, your staff will be facing many more risks than an office worker, so your first aid facilities and training will need to be more comprehensive.
You may need to consider providing portable or permanent showers and eyewash equipment so that workers can wash away any hazardous substances they come into contact with, such as asbestos.
You may also need to consider an automated defibrillator (AED) to reduce the risk of fatality from cardiac arrest.
An AED is designed to be used by anyone, trained or untrained, as they provide step-by-step instructions. It is recommended that the appointed first aider is the one to administer the treatment as they are also trained on how to perform CPR.
First Aid and Compliance
As with many OHS laws, the laws surrounding first aid may vary in different states. The laws do vary between different workplaces, so it’s essential that you are aware of what is applicable to your own workplace in order to remain compliant.
First aid will generally be administered by a qualified first aider. There may be certain situations that require first aid to be supervised by someone within an acceptable distance from the first aider.
In order to be a first aider, the person should hold a nationally recognised qualification issued by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for the nationally endorsed first aid unit/s of competency which gives them the skills to administer first aid. First aiders should be provided with appropriate training for the level of risk (likelihood of serious injury or illness) identified at the workplace.
First-aiders should attend training on a regular basis to refresh their first-aid knowledge and skills. Refresher training in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) should be carried out annually and first aid qualifications should be renewed every three years.
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