Compliance code: First aid in the workplace - Key changes

A guide to explain recent updates to the first aid in the workplace compliance code.

A guide to the key changes

The First aid in the workplace compliance code 2021 (code) came into effect on 4 November 2021. It replaces the First aid in the workplace compliance code 2008. The purpose of this code is to provide practical guidance to employers about how to comply with their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) to provide adequate workplace facilities, in particular first aid facilities, for the welfare of employees.

The code has been updated and is designed to:

  • be easy to read and use
  • align with the OHS Act
  • reflect modern work practices and state of knowledge
  • align with other updated compliance codes

Similar to the 2008 code, the code offers two options for compliance:

  • The prescribed approach gives prescriptive guidance on complying with the OHS Act in relation to first aid facilities based on an organisation's size and risk level, including numbers of first aid officers and kits to be provided.
  • The risk assessment approach guides employers through the process of determining their first aid needs based on assessment of their workplace hazards and risks.

Introduction

Key changes include:

  • Updates to information on consultation, consistent with other compliance codes.
  • The 'employee awareness' section has been updated to ‘Information about information, instruction, training and supervision for all employees’ and now includes some general information consistent with other codes and additional information about the importance of employees being able to recognise their first aid officers.
  • Guidance on analgesics has been moved to the new section on first aid kits, rooms and equipment
  • Information on immunisation has been moved into the sections on Options 1 and 2
Compliance code 2008 Compliance code 2021
  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Application
  • What does the law say?
  • Options for how to comply
  • What is the effect of choosing one option over the other?
  • Consultation
  • Employee awareness
  • Guidance on analgesics
  • Guidance on infection control
  • Immunisation for first aid officers
  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Application
  • What is first aid?
  • Who has duties?
  • Options for how to apply
  • Consultation
  • Information about information, instruction, training and supervision for all employees

Option 1: Prescribed approach

Key changes include:

  • Clearer steps about how to apply the prescribed approach.
  • A new table showing injuries and illnesses associated with common workplace hazards that may require first aid.
  • More information about how to consider the maximum number of employees in the workplace any one time for the purposes of deciding if a workplace is low-risk or higher risk.
  • Clarification that a higher risk workplace is one where:
    • employees may be exposed to hazards that could result in serious injury or illness that would require immediate medical treatment and/or
    • the workplace is not located where medical assistance or ambulance services are readily available (ie an isolated or remote location)
  • Recommended contents for first aid kits and rooms moved to the new section on first aid kits, rooms and equipment.
  • Information on additional training that may need to be considered for first aid officers, and Inclusion of recommendations for considering training to assist a person experiencing a mental health crisis in the workplace.
  • Removal of a separate ratio number of first aid kits and officers for high-risk workplaces in areas without timely access to appropriate medical and ambulance services such as remote, isolated or mobile workplaces. Emphasis is placed on appropriate training of first aid officers and contents of first aid kits in these workplaces.
  • Inclusion of new paragraphs on:
    • ensuring currency of information on first aid training
    • the need to develop first aid procedures
    • the need to regularly review first aid arrangements .
  • A new table summarising recommended numbers of first aid officers, kits and rooms.
Compliance code 2008 Compliance code 2021
  • Introduction
  • What is a low-risk workplace
  • What is a higher-risk workplace?
  • What about low-risk workplaces with fewer than 10 employees?
  • First aid officers
  • First aid kits
  • First aid rooms and medical services
  • Signage
  • Low-risk micro-business
  • Using the prescribed approach
  • Determining if a workplace is low risk or higher risk
  • Low-risk microbusinesses
  • First aid officers
  • First aid kits
  • First aid rooms
  • Access to medical services and the extent of those services
  • Other first aid equipment
  • Signage
  • First aid procedures
  • Reviewing first aid arrangements

Option 2: Risk-assessment approach

Key changes include:

  • Clearer steps on how to apply the risk-assessment approach.
  • A new table showing injuries and illnesses associated with common workplace hazards that may require first aid.
  • Information on additional training that may need to be considered for first aid officers, and Inclusion of recommendations for considering training to assist a person experiencing a mental health crisis in the workplace.
  • Recommended contents for first aid kits and rooms moved to the new section on first aid kits, rooms and equipment.
  • More information about when arrangements for the services of registered health professionals or access to medical services need to be considered.
  • Inclusion of new paragraphs on:
    • ensuring currency of information on first aid training
    • the need to develop first aid procedures
    • the need to regularly review first aid arrangements
Compliance code 2008 Compliance code 2021
  • Establishing first aid requirements
  • Recording the first aid assessment
  • First aid officers
  • First aid kits
  • First aid rooms and medical services
  • Signage
  • First aid risk assessment process
  • Establishing first aid needs
  • First aid officers
  • First aid kits
  • Registered health professionals and access to medical services
  • Other first aid equipment
  • Signage
  • First aid procedures
  • Reviewing first aid arrangements
  • First aid risk assessment process

First aid kits, rooms and equipment

This new section consolidated information that was repeated under options 1 and 2 in the 2008 code.

Key changes include:

  • Updated recommended contents of first aid kits, including suggested numbers of items.
  • Updated recommended contents of first aid modules.
  • Updated recommended contents of first aid rooms.
  • New recommendations about considering inclusion of:
    • asthma-relieving inhalers and spacers and epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens)
    • dissolvable aspirin for the treatment of chest pain when advised
    • over the counter analgesics if considered necessary (with appropriate controls)
  • Information about when it may be appropriate for a first aid officer to assist a patient with medications.
  • New information on automated external defibrillators (AEDs), showers and eye wash stations.
Compliance code 2008 Compliance code 2021

 

  • First aid kits
  • First aid rooms
  • Automated external defibrillators
  • Showers and eye wash stations

Appendices

Key changes include:

  • content of appendices B Definitions and C Consultation moved to the Introduction
  • new Appendix B Checklist for applying first aid arrangements
  • updated Appendix E Standard precautions for infection control
Compliance code 2008 Compliance code 2021
  • A The compliance framework
  • B Definitions
  • C Consultation
  • D Sample first aid risk assessment
  • E Additional modules for first aid kits
  • F Standard precautions
  • A The compliance framework
  • B Checklist for applying first aid arrangements (prescribed approach)
  • C Sample first aid risk assessment (risk assessment approach)
  • E Standard precautions for infection control