An update to the Victorian First Aid Code has been released that aims to provide employers with guidance on what is ‘appropriate’ first aid including appropriate equipment, fit out and staff training. The Code also recommends businesses consider adding Epipens to their First Aid Kits and consider providing training to staff on how to provide first aid to a person in a mental health emergency.
The Compliance Code: First aid in the workplace is an update of a 2008 Code and brings the key elements in line with the 2018 National WHS Code of Practice in First Aid (that was also adopted by NSW in 2019).
“The guidance provided in the Code is not mandatory, a duty holder who complies with the Code will – to the extent it deals with their duties or obligations under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations – be considered to have complied with those duties or obligations” the Code outlines.
The Code is guidance and not law, as is noted in the Code itself, but in the event of an incident or investigation the business will be asked to demonstrate how it met the obligations of the Act and Regulations and the Code will be used as a starting point for what is a “reasonable approach”.
The Code approaches “reasonable” first aid in two different methods – Option 1: proscribed requirements based on size of business and risk level, or Option 2: pure risk matrix approach.
Action items for businesses today
“While the Code is not law it is a best practice document, and in the event of an incident or investigation the business will be called on to demonstrate compliance with the law, and where the law calls for best practice (and reasonable response as OHS does) this Code will be the starting point” explains ACAPMA’s Elisha Radwanowski.
“Fuel retail and wholesale is a unique situation, with almost all staff working alone simply due to the nature of the industry, first aid has long been an area of concern and confusion. Members often seek confirmation that their approach of providing first aid kits and instruction to contact an ambulance if required is appropriate” continues Elisha.
“Guidance such as this Code are general in nature so application to the ‘solitary worker’ environment of fuel wholesale and retail can be problematic, but they are great for understanding the broader context. Particularly great in this Code is the first aid kit checklist and the other resources to review first aid approach” said Elisha.
“Every business should take the update of this Code as an prompt to sit down and review the first aid provisions and approach in their businesses” concluded Elisha.
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Safety Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general information for you to consider and do not constitute advice. You should seek further advice on your situation by contacting your legal advisor. ACAPMA members can access resources and receive advice, guidance and support from the ACAPMA employment professionals via firstname.lastname@example.org , it is free for members. ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see; https://acapma.com.au/membership/ for more information.
Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)