Workplace injuries. Two words that send shivers down any business owner’s spine. When the cause is also an emergency incident for which you’re unprepared, then be afraid. Be very afraid.
Your employees count on you to have their safety front of mind. So when there’s an injury, whether apparently trivial or evidently more serious, the onus is on you as employer to take responsibility.
It worked for the scouts and it’s perfectly apt for your workplace too. In February 2016, Safe Work Australia released a Code of Practice on first aid in the workplace. This Code was approved under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act (the WHS Act). It’s a big piece of legislation that is relevant to any business with a duty of care.
This Legislation makes it clear that your duty of care as an employer in relation to first aid goes beyond band aids in the lunchroom or an incident log at reception. In order for business owners to meet workplace health and safety requirements, a set of guidelines and an active approach to constantly improving the safety of your work environment is best practice. It’s black and white.
The statistics say that less than one in three Australian employees (31%) currently feel confident to perform first aid in an emergency. Reasons range from ‘a lack of training’ through to feeling ‘personally responsible’ if something were to go wrong.
Well-trained First Aiders are one of the important measures you can take to meet compliance. More importantly, they’re there to save lives.
They’re the ones everyone looks to when injures occur and when your workplace is in the throes of an emergency.
It goes without saying that they should be properly trained in all procedures likely to be necessary, and familiar with all the related workplace policies that govern what happens during an incident.
Types of First Aid Training might include:
- Basic and Advanced First Aid – common emergencies, CPR, casualty management, incident management, high-risk workplaces
- Occupational First Aid – as above, with a focus on first-aid facility management;
First Aid in Remote Situations – first aid administration in hard to reach locations, including aerial evacuation.
In Australia, depending on your workplace and its level of risk, there should be at least one First Aider for every 25 employees in high-risk environments. Low-risk workplaces should have one per 50 employees. Think about your own numbers - how compliant is your workplace?
GET THE KIT
An essential part of workplace safety is the tools required – your First Aid Kit. It’s essential to do some research and select the right kit for your workplace.
Here are some emergencies that a compliant First Aid kit can treat:
- Broken bones
- Electric shock
- Minor eye injuries
- Cuts, scratches, punctures, splinters, grazes
- Muscular ailments and sprains
Do some research, take compliance advice – then make sure you’ve got the right kit in place, and that your First Aiders know what’s in it.
RESPECT THE RULES
Negligence in this area can lead to serious sanctions. And if you’re lax on compliance, then your employees are always in some danger. So it should be no surprise to learn that infringement notices and conduct investigations are a common consequence, if you fail to follow the rules.
In Australia, there are three types of notices that a business might receive from an inspector:
- Improvement Notice – If a company fails to fix the listed problems, penalties can be up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for corporations;
- Prohibition – All work operations must cease until improvements have been completed. Non-compliance means fines of up to $100,000 for individuals and $500,000 for corporations;
- Non-Disturbance notices – A preservation period of 7 days is issued. Potential penalties are the same as those listed for the Improvement Notice above.
LEAD YOUR TRIBE
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Keep your team updated and informed. Provide them with all the resources they need to minimise workplace risks and injuries. It’s the least you can do - and it’s also the law.
First aid compliance is important to your business. Ensuring that you meet the requirements for making your workplace safer for all your employees is your number one priority. And if ever in doubt, outsource. Find the right service provider of first aid resources that can support your business on its journey to compliance.