Construction work is hazardous in nature and the risk of accident and injury is much higher when compared to a low-risk environment such as an office or retail outlet. When assessing first aid requirements, you need to take into account the work being performed, the number of workers and other people that may be affected.
Incidents at residential building sites can happen without warning – therefore it is critical that all workers have access to first aid.
First aid is the immediate treatment given to someone suffering an injury or illness until more advanced care is available or they recover. Prompt and appropriate first aid can reduce the severity of an injury or illness, and in extreme cases, could mean the difference between life and death.
Every person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a legal responsibility to ensure workers have access to first aid provisions.
To decide what provision you require, you need to carry out a thorough risk assessment that considers:
- the type of workplace
- the hazards associated with the work activities
- how often workers are exposed to the hazards
- how serious the injury or illness could be, and
- past incidents and injury data.
You must give workers reasonable opportunities to have input into the planning of first aid provisions.
A high-risk workplace is where workers may be exposed to hazards that could result in serious injury or illness where immediate first aid treatment is crucial.
A low-risk workplace is where workers are not exposed to high-risk hazards and the potential work-related injuries and illnesses requiring first aid would be minor in nature.
First aid procedures should ensure that workers have a clear understanding of first aid provisions in their workplace and should take into account workers’ language and literacy levels.
A PCBU must prepare an emergency plan for the workplace that provides procedures to respond effectively in an emergency situation. The proximity of the workplace to medical centres, hospitals or ambulance services should be included in your plan. The emergency plan is not a substitute for appropriate access to on-site first aid.
You should regularly review your first aid provisions in consultation with your workers to ensure they remain adequate and effective.
Trained first aiders are required to hold a nationally recognised statement of attainment.
First aid should be easy for all workers to access immediately, or as close to this as practicable. You need to consider:
- the size and location of your workplace
- how long it will take for a first aider to reach the injured or ill person
- if workers work on several building sites across the day
- after-hours or remote working requirements, and
- what communications systems are needed
(e.g. mobile or satellite telephones).
At some sites it may not be practicable to have a trained first aider on site. In these cases workers must have an effective means of accessing a trained first aider and the ability to contact emergency services. This could include an arrangement with a nearby medical practice or neighbouring business, as long as they are aware of the types of injuries likely to require treatment and they are accessible at all times during your work activities.
Where a first aider is not on site workers should receive information, instruction and training on the procedures to be followed when first aid is required including the procedure for contacting external assistance (e.g. who calls the ambulance and procedures for evacuating an injured person).
An agreement between the builder and a contractor on first aid arrangements should be in writing and a copy kept. Each PCBU must ensure their workers understand the arrangements.
For further information on your duties, read the SafeWork SA information sheet Engaging Contractors.
This information was prepared by SafeWork SA and: