Welcome to the Office Safety tool, previously called the Virtual Office. As well as a new name, we have updated the site's navigation and content.

Use space to open navigation items

First aid

Learn more about good work
Get the latest national work health and safety news and evidence.

Providing immediate and effective first aid to workers or others who have been injured or become ill at your workplace can help reduce the severity of the injury or illness and promote recovery. In some cases, it could mean the difference between life and death.

First aid responders should take precautions to avoid becoming ill and exposing others to illness when handling body or blood substances.

To tailor first aid that suits your workplace’s, use the risk management approach, which is discussed in the First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice 2015. This requires you to consider the nature of the work, type of hazards, workplace size and location, and the number of people at the workplace when deciding what first aid arrangements to provide.

Tips

  • Know the types of injuries that may occur at your workplace.
  • Make first aid contact details easy to find.
  • Provide access to first aid kits and check contents regularly.
  • Ensure first aid officers are trained and use personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Dispose of soiled items appropriately.
  • Maintain good hygiene.
  • Train staff on using the auto external defibrillator (AED).

Potential harm

  • Delayed treatment
  • Communicable diseases

Identified hazards and controls

First aid officer is unavailable or not qualified

Cause

  • First aid officers are not available, non-existent or insufficiently trained.

What workers can do

  • If you are a first aid officer, ensure you keep your training up to date.
  • If you are not a first aid officer, know how to locate one at work.
  • Know the location of a first aid kit and the first aid room.

What employers can do

  • Ensure first aid contact details are easy to find.
  • Provide access to first aid services and equipment.
    A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid (Regulation 42 of the WHS Regulations 2011).

Items in first aid kit are missing or out of date

Cause

  • Items are used and not reported and replaced
  • First aid kits are not audited for items which are past their use by date.

What workers can do

  • Find out what the procedure is for reporting usage of the first kit.

What employers can do

Injury not treated due to inadequate facilities

Cause

  • Nature of potential injuries in workplace have not been identified.
  • Facilities provided are inadequate or poorly maintained.

What workers can do

  • Remain vigilant. Watch out for your own safety and that of others.
  • Don’t take short cuts with work procedures.
  • Inform your supervisor of any hazards or risks you notice.

What employers can do

  • As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must ensure the following in relation to first aid at a workplace:
    • provision of first aid equipment
    • access to first aid equipment by each worker
    • access to facilities for the administration of first aid
    • an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid.

    You may not need to provide first aid equipment or facilities if they are already provided by another duty holder at the same workplace and they are adequate and accessible when workers carry out work.

    See the First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice 2015 for complete details of first aid requirements in the workplace.

Knowledge of emergency procedures is lacking

Cause

  • Staff not being inducted in safety procedures.
  • No emergency procedures in place in the workplace.

What workers can do

  • If you have a new worker, make sure their induction covers the location of the first aid facilities, how to locate a first aid officer, and use of the first aid kit.

What employers can do

  • Publish emergency procedures including the location of the first aid kit.
  • Prominently display first aid officer contact numbers.
  • Include first aid induction into new starter training.

Contraction of disease from an injured person

Cause

  • Lapse in hygiene.

What workers can do

  • If you are a first aid officer, assume the injured or ill person could expose you to an infection and take appropriate precautions. Universal precautions include:
    • hand hygiene
    • use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • appropriate handling and disposal of sharps and waste
    • managing spills of blood and body substances
    • proper cleaning techniques.
  • You should also be aware of the actions to take if you have accidental contact with blood or body substances.

What employers can do

  • Establish procedures to avoid workers becoming ill and exposing others to illness when handling blood or body substances.
  • Provide adequate first aid facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Offer vaccinations for Hepatitis B.

Contraction of disease from contaminated items

Cause

  • Lapse in proper waste disposal.

What workers can do

  • Place all items which are soiled with blood or body substances in plastic bags and tie securely.
  • If you or another in your workplace sustain a sharps injury or are at risk of infection from blood or bodily fluid contamination, seek prompt medical advice.

What employers can do

  • Have policies and procedures on the safe disposal of contaminated items.
  • Provide the appropriate disposal containers, such as sharps disposal bins.

Inability to locate the automated external defibrillator (AED)

An automated external defibrillator (AED):

  • can reduce the chance of fatality from cardiac arrest. AEDs are designed to shock a heart that is beating irregularly to get it back to normal rhythm - not to start a heart that has stopped beating.
  • is a useful addition for workplaces where there is a risk of electrocution or have many people.
  • can be used by trained and untrained people.

Cause

  • Device is too far from the incident to be retrieved within the response time.
  • Device is not visible.
  • Device is locked away.

What workers can do

  • Find out the location of the AED in your organisation.
  • Familiarise yourself with how to use the AED.

What employers can do

  • Make the AED readily accessible – make sure it is not locked in a cupboard or in a person’s office.
  • Place the AED in the most appropriate location, such as reception.
  • Clearly mark and make the AED highly visible.
  • Situate the AED at a convenient height for easy access and near eye level for easy identification.
  • Use signage throughout the workplace to identify where the closest AED is.
  • Provide an appropriate number of AEDs for the workplace based on risk assessment.

Automated external defibrillator (AED) fails to operate due to poor maintenance

Cause

  • The AED battery is flat and does not work as designed.
  • AED pads have expired.
  • The AED does not operate when used. Noting AEDs are designed not to operate if the patient does not require an electric shock.

What workers can do

  • If responsible, ensure that the AED maintenance procedures are followed.

What employers can do

  • Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance.
  • Conduct inspections of the AED on a regular basis to confirm it is in working order.
  • Replace the AED or its components as required.

Hesitancy to use the automated external defibrillator (AED)

Cause

  • Workers are unaware of what an AED is.
  • Staff are untrained in procedures for AED use.
  • Workers fearful to use the AED in an emergency.

What workers can do

  • Undertake relevant training.
  • Familiarise yourself with the type of AED available at your workplace.

What employers can do

  • Offer AED awareness training
  • Use appropriate information systems to increase awareness of the location and purpose of AEDs.
  • Use appropriate signage to identify where AEDs can be found.
Page last reviewed: 15 December 2019

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 26 Jun 2022

https://www.comcare.gov.au/office-safety-tool/workplace-safety/first-aid