Metal fabrication: Improving safety through first aid facilities

Guidance for employers on how to set up first aid needs, based on hazards, risks and the number of employees in the workplace.


First aid

First aid in the workplace is the provision of primary health care and basic life support for people who suffer an injury or illness at work.

The goals of first aid are:

  • to preserve life
  • alleviate suffering
  • prevent further illness or injury
  • promote recovery

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors. This includes providing:

  • so far as is reasonably practicable, adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at any workplace under the employer’s management and control, such as first aid kits and suitably trained first aid officers
  • the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health, including on first aid arrangements in the workplace

Where a risk cannot be eliminated, it must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

First aid kits need to be provided at all workplaces. First aid requirements will vary depending on the hazards and risks and the number of employees at your workplace.

Employers need to give employees information and instruction on where trained first aid officers and first aid kits are located in the workplace, including signage for the location of first aid facilities.

First aid kits

Ensure an appropriate number of first aid kits are provided.

Take account of the

  • size and layout of the workplace
  • the number of employees
  • the way the work is done
  • the location of the workplace

Ensure first aid kits are fully stocked and able to assist first aiders.

You may need to provide additional modules to a standard first aid kit where particular hazards exist, for example eye or burn modules.

Also give first aid kits to employees who perform their work offsite.

Ensure the contents of kits are protected from dust and damage. For example, store the kit in a container.

Ensure first aid kits are regularly checked and restocked when necessary.

Compliance code: First aid in the workplace provides information for employers on the need to provide adequate first aid facilities in the workplace. This includes assessing:

  • first aid needs
  • first aid kits
  • first aid rooms
  • the number of trained first aid officers
  • first aid procedures

First aid officers

Employers need to ensure they provide first aid officers with appropriate training so they are able to perform their role effectively.

As a minimum, employers need to ensure first aid officers hold a current nationally recognised statement of attainment issued by a registered training organisation (RTO) for the nationally endorsed first aid unit of competency 'Provide First Aid', or a course providing equivalent skills. 

For higher risk workplaces, there may be a need for first aid officers who have completed 'Provide Advanced First Aid', or a course providing equivalent skills. 

Training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be carried out annually and first aid qualifications should be renewed every 3 years.

Where possible, employers need to ensure that there is at least one first aid officer available at the workplace at any one time during operating times.

Employers should provide an appropriate number of trained first aid officers. The number will vary according to the workplace hazards and risks and number of workers.

When planning numbers of first aid officers at the workplace, employers need to take into account coverage for situations such as shift rostering, leave and flexible work arrangements.

When first aid is given, ensure a record of the treatment is kept.

First aid rooms

The provision of a first aid room will depend on the type of workplace and the number of employees and other persons.

Each first aid room, and its contents, needs to be under the control of a first aid officer who the employer has provided necessary training to, and therefore has the appropriate skills and knowledge.

Where a first aid room is provided by an employer at a workplace, it needs to be:

  • available for provision of first aid as its primary purpose
  • large enough for its purpose
  • well lit and well ventilated
  • easily accessible by injured people who may need to be supported or moved by stretcher or wheelchair and have easy access to toilets
  • near an exit so that an injured person may be removed quickly by ambulance where necessary

Basic first aid room contents

The following items need to be provided in the first aid room:

  • resuscitation face mask or face shield with one-way valve
  • disposable surgical face masks
  • sink and wash basin with hot and cold water or hand sanitiser with paper towels
  • work bench or dressing trolley
  • storage facilities
  • hazardous waste container or bio-hazard bags for soiled dressing a container with disposable lining for soiled waste
  • a sharps container
  • electric power points
  • an examination couch with a waterproof surface and disposable sheets
  • a desk, chair and telephone
  • signage indicating emergency telephone numbers
  • signage indicating emergency first aid procedures
  • a first aid kit or contents appropriate for the workplace

Reviewing first aid arrangements

Employers need to review their first aid arrangements regularly to ensure that they are still adequate for the risk level and number of employees at the workplace.

The review should include checking:

  • if a first aid room is needed
  • that the number of first aid kits and contents of kits are appropriate
  • that the location and type of first aid kits are correct
  • the number and availability of first aid officers needed
  • first aid officers training requirements
  • that first aid training is up to date
  • that first aid contact details are up to date and have the appropriate information