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First Aid Officer Ratios

First AidWhat is the acceptable ratio of First Aid Officers to Employees?

After scouring workplace safety documents and not found any satisfactory answers, a colleague and WHSO Scott Donoghue has raised this question, and we were wondering what your thoughts were on the subject. If you could share your knowledge, highlight any documentation or resources we’d be delighted to get your comments. With Scott’s training and experience in the industry, he mentioned that a ratio of 1:20 might be a realistic figure for larger corporations.

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Comments (15)

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  1. This is an interesting question and it is generally answered with the reply “what does the risk assessment indicate?”

    When conducting a risk assessment there are a number of criteria (risk factors) to take into consideration.

    Firstly, have a look at what types of activities are being conducted and the likelihood for the requirement of a first aider. eg an accounting office wouldn’t have the same requirements as a manufacturing plant.

    You will also need to look at how far away emergency services are from your location. eg; if you are right beside a fire station or ambulance your needs are less than say a remote work party rigging power lines in the bush.
    This will also have a bearing on the type of training that is required.

    As WHS Risk Management Consultants, Winning Safety also work through the risk assessment on various levels. What the needs are from a company perspective as well as from a site or project perspective.

    On some confined space entry jobs, all workers were also trained in occupational first aid and CPR along with their CSE training.
    Other financial companies (Over 35 workers) with a majority of young workers had one first aider/WHSO/RARTW/FSA officer
    There have also been construction jobs where the work party had no first aid trained personnel and consulted with the Principle contractor to ensure emergencies were covered.

    Each & every situation is different, and it is the obligation of the employer to identify forseeable risk and have the necessary resources in place to deal with the emergencies as they arise.
    This is the main reason the legislation is vague and doesn’t mention numbers. The requirement for first aid trained personnel is based on the specific needs of the workplace.

    If you would like any further advice on the Risk Management process and determining emergency personnel for your workplace, please call Brad Matthews on 0423 902 477.

  2. John Hardman says:

    Hi,
    from my experience this is a question that often arises regardless of state or territory in which you work. My understaning is that the legislators are prepared to indicate the requirments of first aid such as the type of first aid kit that should be in place. If you think about it this is probably fair given they cannot know every work place inside out.
    As with everything else both the number of first aiders and first aid kit locations should be assessed by completing a risk assesment. If this is completed with all the information and including knowledge of the types of local injuries occurring, frequency and type of business being conducted then this will help you make a good judgement call to get your answer.
    I wish it was as easy as saying a ratio of of 1:15 or 1:10 but this will not equate every where. Two different examples (a)an office of five people working as finance only busines and (b) an engineering firm with 25 people mixed with 2 office staff.
    When you look at it, is the difference huge or is it the same? This is why the risk assessment comes into play.
    The finance group may only require a small kit with no first aider as they have a local doctor and hospital nearby whereas the engineering firm may need one 3 first aiders with full kits place onto each of their vehicles and several more on the shop floor depending on size. The need to consider burns, cuts, abrasions, bruising, chemical incidents will all come into play where the finance group may on get a few paper cuts.
    At the ned of the day this all needs to be documented both on how you came to the solution to cover first aid as well as keeping records of all incident that have occurred. A St Johns first aid book is set out really well for recording use of first aid incidents.

    Hope this is of some help
    John H

  3. Mitchell Page says:

    SafeWork SA has just reviewed First Aid in the Workplace COP which can be found on the SafeWork SA website.

    There is a specific area “3.6 Number of Designated First Aiders” they use a 5 step process to determine the number and type of first aiders required.

    Step 1: The workplace is remote or not remote.
    Step 2: Is the workplace High Risk.
    Step 3: Identify maximum number of employees at any one time.
    Step 4: Refer to the tables they have created that show the minimum number of First Aiders and the necessary training they require.
    Step 5: Before finalising the number of first aiders consider any other factors that may indicate the requirement of increasing the number of first aiders above the minimum requirement.

    This is from less than 10 to 600 employees.

    I am in agreedance with them that depending on the circumstances there should be a first aider appointed. for example; In an office area 10 – 50 employees at least 2 Basic First Aiders or 1 Senior First Aider.

    In a workshop area I would have at least 2 Senior First Adiers for every 25 employees.

  4. Allison Toft says:

    In our workplace we have put in place that all staff are required to have a first aid certificate (childcare industry). All of our staff are happy with this as we look at it in the respect that if first aid needed to be administered, all staff are more confident knowing other staff members can assist if required and they have back up.

  5. Melissa Littleford says:

    In regard to the question: What is the acceptable ratio of First Aid Officers to Employees?
    Well, i believe this is dependant on ‘a risk assement being done’ etc. Furthermore, in my workplace (The Childcare Industry) yes staff are required to have a Current First Aid Certificate however ‘where is the paper trail’. I believe that ALL ORGANISATIONS NEED TO FOLLOW AND ADHERE TO OHS POLICIES AND PROCEDURES AND then to embrace this ‘in team meetings’ reflecting the value and the need to ‘update staff’s knowledge skills and attitudes. My point: transparency and accountability. The need is for the ‘injury/circumstance (hazard, near miss, risk) to be documented (which my own experience in the work place lacked. So then i ask you, “How can the facts/info give an accurate account of a risk assessment if the Employer does not like to leave a ‘paper trial’?” Furthermore, Childcare employees have ‘a duty to report’ on Childcare Abuse or incidents etc. (No paperwork, no transparency or accountability)Thus, the Childcare Industry needs still major reform and less ‘for the LOVE OF THE JOB’ just, ‘take this work home and do it (Unpaid)’. No wonder The Childcare Industry is rapidly losing it’s most qualified, competent staff who believe in a safe and healthy ‘working environment and OHS reporting practices’. I rest my case.

  6. Bernie Althofer says:

    Please check out the following web link:

    http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/resources/pdfs/firstaidfull.pdf

    It would appear that significant importance is placed on first aid and first aid officers, but at the same time, it is linked to risk management. There does not appear to be any documentation that specifically mentions an acceptable ratio of First Aid Officers to Employees, but as mentioned on page six of the document mentioned at the above website, there should be sufficient numbers for all shift workers.

    It might also be reasonable to consider reading the new ISO 31000 Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines.

    Hope this helps.

    Bernie

  7. Mike O'Reilly says:

    WorkSafe Victoria have put together a series of Compliance Codes covering several aspects of OHS and first aid is one of them.

    WorkSafe’s position for first aid ratios, adopting the prescribed approach is:

    Introduction

    31. Employers who follow the guidance in this section will have complied with the OHS Act on the provision of appropriate first aid facilities and first aid officers for their employees.

    32. This guidance is aimed at:
    . workplaces with 10 or more employees
    . workplaces with fewer than 10 employees that have a higher level of risk.

    What is a low-risk workplace?

    33. Low-risk workplaces are those where:

    . employees are not exposed to hazards that could result in serious injury or illness that would require immediate medical treatment such as those associated with plant, hazardous substances, dangerous goods, confined spaces and hazardous manual handling

    . the business is located where medical assistance or ambulance services are readily available to the community and to the workplace where the business operates.

    Low-risk workplaces include offices, libraries and most retail operations.

    What is a higher-risk workplace?

    34. Higher-risk workplaces are those where employees may be exposed to hazards that could result in serious injury or illness that would require immediate medical treatment.

    Higher risk workplaces include manufacturing plants, kitchens, motor vehicle and body panel workshops, medical research facilities and forestry operations.

    35. Examples of serious injuries requiring immediate medical treatment are:
    . the amputation of any part of the body . a serious head injury . a serious eye injury . de-gloving or scalping . electric shock . a spinal injury . the loss of a bodily function . serious lacerations.

    What about low-risk workplaces with fewer than 10 employees?

    36. The prescriptive guidance on first aid officers, first aid kits and first aid rooms is not applicable for workplaces with fewer than 10 employees and low levels of risk. Employers at low-risk workplaces with fewer than 10 employees should refer to page 10 for further information.

    First aid officers

    Low-risk workplaces

    37. In low-risk workplaces, compliance is achieved by providing:
    . one first aid officer for 10 to 50 employees . two first aid officers for 51 to 100 employees . an additional first aid officer for every additional 100 employees.

    Higher-risk workplaces

    38. In higher-risk workplaces, compliance is achieved by providing:
    . one first aid officer for up to 25 employees . two first aid officers for 26 to 50 employees . an additional first aid officer for every additional 50 employees.

    39. Where an employee or group of employees does not have timely access to appropriate medical and ambulance services, (such as in remote, isolated or mobile workplaces) compliance is achieved by providing at least one first aid officer for every 10 employees.

    40. A home-based workplace is not considered to be a remote or isolated workplace for the purpose of this compliance code.

    First aid training

    41. The minimum acceptable level of training for first aid officers for workplaces is the senior first aid certificate (often referred to as a level 2 first aid qualification) or its competency based equivalent HLTFA301B Apply First Aid.

    42. For higher-risk workplaces, there may be a need for first aid officers who have completed occupational first aid training (often referred to as a level 3 first aid
    qualification) or its competency based equivalent HLTFA402B Apply Advanced First Aid.

    43. If the workplace is large and diverse or has a complex range of OHS hazards, the employer needs to choose option 2 (see page 11) and determine the appropriate level of first aid training based on a risk assessment.

    44. Employers need to ensure that the qualifications of first aid officers are current.

    First aid kits
    Location and quantity

    45. In low-risk workplaces, compliance is achieved by providing:
    . one first aid kit for 10 to 50 employees . one additional kit for every additional 50 employees up to 200 . one additional kit for every 100 additional employees above 200.

    46. In higher-risk workplaces, compliance is achieved by providing:
    . one first aid kit, including specific first aid kit modules, for up to 25 employees . two kits, including specific first aid kit modules, for up to 50 employees . one additional kit, including specific first aid kit modules, for every additional 50 employees.

    47. Where an employee or group of employees does not have timely access to appropriate medical and ambulance services, compliance is achieved by providing at least one kit for every 25 employees. For isolated, remote locations or mobile workplaces, employees need to have access to appropriate first aid kits.

    48. Where there are separate work areas, it may be appropriate to locate first aid facilities centrally and provide portable first aid kits in each work area. This may include motor vehicles.

    The link for the compliance code is:
    http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/f50215804071fb55b197ffe1fb554c40/First+aid+CC.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

    Hope this assists in getting some direction to your query.

    Regards

    Mike

  8. Leslie Hunter says:

    HI JOANNE,
    MY BACKGROUND IS POWER PLANT PROJECTS,REFINARIES AND COAL MINES WORKING FOR LARGE CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES AND LIVING IN CAMPS,THEY ALLWAYS HAVE PARAMEDICS ON HAND PLUS ALL THE ELECTRITIONS ARE SENIOR FIRST AIDERS AND THE BUILDERS ALWAYS PUT AS MANY WORKERS AS WISH TO APPLY THROUGH FOR THEIR SENIOR FIRST AID CERTIFICATE .
    TO ANSWER THE QUESTION I HAVE NEVER REALY HAD ANY CONCERNS IN THAT AREA BUT NOW THAT THE QUESTION HAS BEEN ASKED IT MAKES YOU THINK IN REGARDS TO THE RATIO OF WORKERS TO FIRST AID GUYS.
    NOW THAT I TRAIN AND ASSESS FULL TIME AND WORK OUT OF OUR OWN WORK SHOP AND HAVE A SMALL OPERATION.
    I GIVE A SHORT TALK ON THAT SUBJECT WHEN I PUT APPLICANTS THROUGH FOR THEIR ,
    WORK SAFELY IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY (WHITE CARD)CPCCOHS1001A , PLUS WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY LICENSES.
    IT GOES LIKE THIS I POINT OUT OUR FIRST AID KIT AND SAY THE SIZE IS APPROPRIATE TO THE TYPE OF INJURY YOU COULD SUSTAIN HERE TODAY AND OUR PROXIMITY TO THE LARGEST HOSPITAL IN AUSTRALIA OUTSIDE OF A CAPITOL CITY.
    WHICH IS 0.9 KILOMETRES AND THE RESPONCE TIME IT WOULD TAKE TO GET HERE.
    APART FROM INJURIES YOU HAVE TO TAKE OTHER FACTORS INTO ACCOUNT SUCH AS MEDICAL CONDITIONS , RELAPSES OR HEART ATTACKS.
    THE RATIO DOES NEED TO BE LOOKED AT AS IN SAFETY OFFICERS NEEDED ON SITE IF YOU HAVE 30 WORKERS YOU NEED A SAFETY OFFICER FULL TIME AND THE MORE WORKERS YOU NEED THE MORE SAFETY OFFICERS YOU NEED.SENIOR FIRST AIDERS ARE MORE IMPORTANT.
    REGARDS,
    LES.

  9. Christine Mainwaring says:

    We have two First Aid officers and have about 70 staff we have just
    requested two more volunteers so that we will have four First Aid
    Officers. Hopefully this will cover any leave/sickness taken by the
    First Aiders also we encourage all staff members to complete a senior
    first aid course so that all staff can be responsible for their fellow
    worker.

    Regards

    Christine Mainwaring
    Executive Assistant
    to Mike Lane CEO – Director

  10. andy Hill says:

    First Aid officers – acceptable numbers depends on the type of work

    – if working in pairs and high risk – 100%
    – if working in teams and low risk – 1 or 2 per team

    There is no set number that I know of, the more trained the better for
    everyone

    Regards

    Andy Hill

  11. Rex Hodges says:

    We here at QPAC employee first aid officers to be on site when
    performances are being conducted. We use 2 first aid officers amongst
    3000-4000 patrons and 100-200 staff and performers per night. We have
    conducted a risk assessment to identify our needs but we also had to
    include a cost analysis to ensure it would be cost effective. The risk
    assessment identified safety procedures that were in place which reduced
    our amount of incidents. We also service the general public with our
    first aiders as we are located directly across from South Brisbane
    railway station and located in the middle of the Southbank Cultural
    centres. During our normal operations (daily) we engage one first aid
    officer but have several back up officers if required. So to answer the
    question how many first aiders to staff members is one. If the company
    uses best practise it will have trained first aid officer in there
    workforce and use this information when rostering staff. The other thing
    to note is here at QPAC we employee first aid officers to be just that,
    they do not hold another position they solely conduct first aid and
    manage the stock and equipment involved in first aid.

    Thanks
    Rex

  12. Dave Portway says:

    Hi all, try the Approved Codes of Practice in your state for answers. Here is the link for the new SA first aid ACOP September 2009.

    http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/FirstAidCodeofPractice.pdf

    her is a link for references to other sites across the country and of geeneral interest:

    http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/show_page.jsp?id=2822#ohs

    Dave Portway

    Safety Manager

  13. Sangetta Singh says:

    According to me once we undertake the assessments on the hazards, it
    likelihood and probability, level of first aiders required, first aid
    components/ items and establishment of people working at any one time as
    per the Code of practice for First Aid, we can then allote a number
    depending on the principle of “SFARP” concept to mitigate the risk. i.e
    1: 30 or 1:40 etc etc. but it is always very important to have a first
    aiders at all times depending at the worksites which will vary if the
    number of staff is higher. Just remember-
    The basic reason to have first aiders is to keep the person alive before
    an ambulance arrives or the person can be taken to the closest hospital
    Our hospitals or clinics with the work areas may be like 8-10 minutes
    away
    If the risk assessment is undertaken it becomes much easier to define
    your ratios of First Aid and staff

  14. Terry Gates says:

    You will need to have a number of trained First Aiders to cover your workforce, making considerations for any employees who are disabled or inexperienced.

    For low-risk environments like shops and offices, the recommended number of First Aiders is 1 per 100 employees; for medium-risk workplaces like warehouses and processing units, it’s 2 for the first 100 and then 1 per 100; and for high-risk workplaces, HSE recommends training 2 people per 100.
    Excerpt from HSE UK
    See also Comcare site:http://www.comcare.gov.au/virtual_workplaces/virtual_office/first_aid_room/first_aid_officers

    I hope this is of help
    Regards
    Terry

  15. hello
    How much extra pay at work do you generally get after having a new responsibility (first aid officer)?
    Hammer

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