Whether the workplace is an office setting or a construction site, it has two common traits:
- The presence of risk and hazards resulting from illness or injury.
- The need for proper first aid procedures to treat them.
The good health of employees is one area in business that is often overlooked as a means of improving profitability. In Australia, out of the 13.4 million workers in the 2017-2018 financial year, 4.2% experience work-related injury or illness during that period. That is equivalent to 563,600 workers who acquire injury in the workplace.
According to the same report, the most common cause of injury or illness is lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending. Almost 60 percent were given time off, yet only 27 percent receive workers’ compensation for the injury or illness.
Work injuries can result in changes in workers’ physical and mental health. It affects their quality of life and can reduce their ability to participate in society and the labor market. Aside from that, the loss of work hours due to injuries can hurt their family life. In some cases, work injuries can increase the risk of poorer health among family members.
The lost workdays due to unintentional injuries in Australia costs an astounding $60.6 billion per annum or 4.8% of gross domestic product (GDP). This estimate is predominantly geographically based in the six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia) and two territories (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory).
Whether the workplace has a high-hazard or low-hazard environment, workers still face a variety of risks.
There is the risk of shock, catastrophic bleeding, poisonings, burns, extreme temperatures, musculoskeletal injuries, bites, and stings. There is also the risk of experiencing medical emergencies such as heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest. The possibility of having an injury is high, and the only thing we can do is to plan, prepare, and be ready.
If your workplace does not have a designated first aider, it could be a problem. Aside from your legal obligation as the employer to have one, a first aider can prevent the situation from becoming worse. If your workers are not prepared to handle different emergencies, injuries can become far more debilitating. These often lead to greater medical costs and loss of productivity due to loss of work hours.
What is the Role of Workplace First Aider?
Every Australian workplace is legally required to have at least one trained First Aid Officer. This is according to the Model Code of Practice: First aid in the workplace by Safe Work Australia.
The majority of workplace first aiders will handle minor first aid issues, especially in low-risk environments. However, the role of the first aider can be more complex. This applies in large workplaces of over 10 workers and above and workplaces with high risk, dangerous work.
The number of first aiders or first aid officers is depending on the type and nature of your workplace. Here is a sample ratio of first aiders to workers:
- Low risk: 1 first aider in every 50 workers
- High risk: 1 first aider in every 25 workers
- Remote high risk: 1 first aider in every 10 workers
In addition to these ratios,According to The First Aid Course Sydney a first aid course provider several factors may affect the need for extra first aiders including:
- the arrangement of work (multiple shifts in one day or overtime)
- seasonal work (a sudden increase in the number of workers)
- large numbers of other persons/workers present (such as schools, shopping centers, childcare facilities)
- workplaces that have unique hazards (such as gyms, fitness centers, amusement rides).
In situations where it’s not practical to have trained first aiders on-site, workers should have access to medical facilities and equipment. They should be able to contact emergency services immediately.
As the employer, you can make an arrangement with a nearby medical practice or neighboring business. Those who can assist your workers and knows likely to provide treatment in case the need occurs.
To be a qualified first aider, the worker/s should hold a nationally recognised certification issued by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). A nationally endorsed first aid course will give them the skills and knowledge to administer first aid when needed.
The first aiders should be provided with appropriate training for the level of risk present at the workplace. For refresher courses, CPR refresher must be taken annually to refresh resuscitation skills. For first aid training, it is up for renewal every three years.
In an emergency, the first aider is responsible in:
- Management of the incident and ensure the continuing safety of the casualty, the bystanders, and yourself.
- Casualty assessment (primary and secondary survey).
- Arrange further medical assistance or calling emergency medical services (Australian Emergency number – 000).
- Prioritise casualty treatment based on the assessment.
- Provide first aid treatment including CPR, use of AED, Heimlich maneuver, and other first aid techniques.
- Make notes and record an observation of casualties.
- Monitoring of vital signs and checking of the airways.
- Provide a handover when further medical help arrives.
- Fill out any paperwork as required following the incident.
The workplace first aider can provide potential lifesaving medical care prior to the arrival of emergency services. These include the use of a first aid kit and other medical supplies and medicines for minor injuries.