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First aid & CPR

According to new research shared on Worksafe Australia, only 13% of Australian workplaces know how to keep their employees safe and 87% of Australian businesses are failing knowledge of first aid.

The research also reveals:

  • 65% of Australian employers are unaware of Safe Work Australia’s new Code of Practice
  • Only 48% of Australian workplaces offer accredited first aid training to their employees
  • Less than half have appropriate workplace first aid resources (e.g. first aid kits and signages)
  • Only 24% of employees have participated in first aid procedure training or first aid drills

These statistics show that the majority of Australian Businesses are not compliant with Safe Work Australia’s Code of Practice.  Workplaces are unaware of their obligations and have inadequate resources to assist in an emergency.

First aid training is not just for the school yard when a student falls in the playground. Electrical shocks, burns, fainting, overexertion, fractures, or dislocations; are among just some of the potential hazards and harms in an adult workplace. These incidents will require a calm and trained first aid officer to assist in the emergency and later converse with medical professionals.

Fire and Safety Australia (FSA) have compiled some questions for you to identify your workplace first aid shortfalls and have some handy tips to rectify awareness.

Can you confidently answer yes to the following questions?

  • Does your workplace have access to first aid officers and first aid kits at all times?
  • Is there a first aid officer rostered on for every shift?
  • Are you aware of the location of your nearest first aid kit?
  • Is DRSABCD featured on a poster in your workplace?
  • Do you know what DRSABCD is?
  • Do you know the ratio of compressions to breaths for CPR?
  • Does someone in your office know how to perform CPR?
  • Are you equipped in case of an emergency?
  • If your life was in danger, is there first aid available to help you?

Read on to ensure you have a first aid system in place at your workplace.

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Injuries associated with common workplace hazards that may require first aid:

Source: Safework Australia First Aid in Workplace Code of Practice 2018

Tip 2 – Ensure enough First Aid Officers are rostered on for every shift

First aid is a workplace health and safety (WHS) regulation. As an employer, under WHS regulations, you have a duty to provide first aid access and you need to ensure all workers have been consulted on first aid procedures.

First aid is the initial care provided prior to receiving professional medical attention.

Safework Australia recommends there should be one first aid officer for every:

  • 50 workers in low-risk workplaces (e.g. an office)
  • 25 workers in high-risk workplaces (e.g. a construction site)

First aid officers need to be known in the workplace. For awareness, you could:

  • create a first aid officer roster and display it in a common area
  • add a badge or a cap to first aid officer uniforms

Tip 3 – Conduct a yearly audit of first aid training and set a recurring reminder to book refresher courses

First aid training is not equivalent to a medical degree. However, educating a first aid officer may still save lives. A great deal can be done between the incident occurring and emergency services arriving. Every minute counts.

Do first aid officers need regular training? Yes. Refresh, re-educate, and repeat. The cost of first aid training is an investment for the employer. It is the workplace that benefits from the education. Set a recurring reminder to book in refresher courses and for more information view our First Aid Courses.

Tip 4 – DRSABCD is basic life support and the starting point for all action plans in an emergency

The order of assessment begins with DRSABCD; bleeding, burns, fractures, and other injuries follow afterwards. Ensure all your staff know the process to follow in a medical emergency.

To help staff remember what to do, ensure you have plenty of safety charts strategically placed around your office or workplace. Fire & Safety Australia provide free, laminated A3 and A4 resuscitation charts. Fill in an enquiry form to request your free charts today.

What is DRSABCD? The Healthcorp first aid manual defines DRSABCD as:

  • Danger – Ensure the safety of yourself, other bystanders, and the victim. (E.g. possible dangers: electricity, traffic, chemicals, unstable structures, fire, undeployed airbags, sharp objects, distressed friends or relatives, gases.)
  • Response – Check if the victim is unconscious/unresponsive
  • Send – Send for help. Call 000
  • Airway – Open the airway and look for signs of life
  • Breathing – Check for normal breathing
  • Compressions – If normal breathing is absent, start CPR with compressions followed by two rescue breaths. If unwilling to perform rescue breaths, perform CPR only
  • Defibrillation – Attach Automated External Defibrillator and follow prompts

Tip 5 – Workplaces with a higher risk of serious injury or injury occurring would benefit from having a dedicated first aid room

The first step in DRSABCD is check for danger. Are you and the victim safe from unstable structures, or toxic fumes? Will any bystanders faint from the sight of blood? A first aid room will be equipped with first aid resources within easy reach.

According to Safework Australia, a first aid room should:

  • Be big enough to provide any appropriate immediate medical treatment
  • Be well-lit and ventilated
  • Be easily accessible to those who are injured or who may need to be supported by a stretcher or a wheelchair
  • Have easy access to toilets and running water
  • Not be used for any other purpose
  • Remain under the control of the first aid officer who has been trained and holds the appropriate skills and knowledge

Safework Australia states that a first aid room is recommended for:

  • Low-risk workplaces with 200 workers or more, or
  • High-risk workplaces with 100 workers or more

Tip 6 – First Aid Kits need to be continually maintained and be tailored to the circumstances of your workplace 

Does mouldy bread make a nutritious sandwich? No. A first aid kit with expired contents can lead to further injury.

Used and expired items must be replaced. A first aid officer, in addition to aiding in an emergency, should ensure your workplace first aid kit is maintained and stocked with the necessary items.

Do you have a first aid kit checklist?

For a quick refresher Health Direct Australia states:

  • Combine dressing pads to cover and pack bleeding wounds
  • Non-adherent dressings for covering wounds and burns
  • Shock blankets that help manage body temperature
  • Crepe bandages to provide light support for sprains and strains
  • Heavy crepe bandages to immobilise joints and provide support
  • Triangular bandages can be used as a sling to immobilise injured limbs, or as a pad to control bleeding or protect injuries
  • Disposable resuscitation face shields provide personal protection during mouth to mouth resuscitation
  • Sterile saline tubes or sachets are used to flush debris from eyes and clean minor cuts and grazes

Like prescription glasses, your first aid kit must be equipped for your individual workplace. Your first aid officer must be proficient in how to utilise all the items in your first aid kit.

Tip 7 – Ensure first aid officers are trained in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

What is CPR?

According to the Healthcorp manual, Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation is a technique combining chest compressions and rescue breathing. CPR is used to maintain sufficient circulation of oxygenated blood to prevent brain damage until specialised medical help arrives.

If the victim shows no signs of life and is not breathing normally CPR should be commenced as soon as possible. Gently tilt the victim’s head (not neck) backwards with one hand on the forehead and the other lifting the victim’s chin using the thumb and index finger. Check for normal breathing and signs of life.

  • Normal breathing: is inhaling and exhaling air to and from the lungs in a regular fashion.
  • Occasional Gasps: (agonal respirations) are abnormal and CPR should be commenced if the victim is showing no signs of life

Tip 8 – Confirm all workplace AED’s are maintained and functioning

An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is used to treat sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). According to Queensland’s First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can prolong life; but defibrillation is the only way to restore normal heart rhythm. An AED should be applied whenever CPR is performed.

Are your first aid officers confident to use a defibrillator? Do you know the location of your workplace defibrillator?

St John Ambulance Australia believes, depending on model and manufacturer, AEDs should replace:

  • Pads – every 2 years
  • Battery – every 4 years

Are you equipped in case of an emergency?

If your workplace doesn’t qualify or follow these tips, it will be hazardous for your business. So act now and contact FSA for first aid training. FSA is nationally accredited and holds an ISO9001-2015 Quality Accreditation. We conduct public courses at our national training centres, or we can come to your workplace and conduct training for larger group bookings.

First aid is important, ensure that your workplace is prepared. The first step begins with you.

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