When Does a Business Have a Duty of Care?

When Does a Business Have a Duty of Care?

First aid serves as a crucial bridge until more advanced medical care is accessible or until the person in question recovers. The primary objectives of first aid are to preserve life, mitigate the progression of illness or injury, alleviate pain whenever feasible, facilitate recovery, and safeguard the unconscious. In the most critical circumstances, basic emergency life support can make the pivotal difference between life and death.


The Responsibility of Businesses and PCBUs

Every business bears a legal obligation to ensure that ample provisions for first aid are in place. This includes necessary equipment, facilities and individuals trained in administering first aid. A PCBU is an entity or individual that carries out business or activities, regardless of its legal structure. This includes employers, business owners, company directors, self-employed individuals, partnerships, government departments, and not-for-profit organisations.

Those who fall under the category of a PCBU at a workplace are required to:

  • Ensure adequate first aid equipment for the workplace, such as a replete first aid kit.
  • Guarantee each worker has ready access to the designated first aid equipment.
  • Ensure the availability of facilities for the administration of first aid.
  • Have enough workers who have undergone first aid training, or provide access to individuals who possess first aid training.

In fulfilling your role as a PCBU, it is crucial to engage in consultations with your workforce when discerning your first aid needs. This duty to seek input is grounded in the understanding that involving workers in these discussions enhances the decision-making process concerning health and safety issues.

The Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation stipulates that a PCBU, when making determinations about their first aid qualifications and prerequisites, must take into account:

  • The nature of the tasks being carried out within the workplace.
  • The specific hazards present within the workplace.
  • The overall size and layout of the workplace.
  • The composition and variety of workers and other individuals present at the workplace.


Legal Aspects of the Duty of Care

In an emergency, there is a legal obligation to render aid to an ill or injured person if a duty of care has been established. In legal terms, “duty of care” is the legal obligation to act responsibly and reasonably, taking reasonable steps to prevent harm or injury to others. For instance, if you hold the role of a first aider in your workplace, you automatically assume a duty of care towards your co-workers. Additionally, all adults are entrusted with a “duty of reasonable care” for children in the absence of their parents or legal guardians.

parent providing first aid treatment


Good Samaritan Protections Across Australian States & Territories

Where no duty of care is owed and you provide first aid assistance, you are classified as a “Good Samaritan.” Protections for good Samaritans exist across Australia and come into play when care is administered with genuine intent and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

However, it’s important to note that nuances exist between the different states and territories. For example, in New South Wales, these protections may not apply if the good Samaritan is deemed to be the source of the issue. On the other hand, in Victoria, the protections generally apply without exception as long as the assistance is provided in good faith. While the specifics may vary based on location, first aiders need to understand that they should not hesitate to assist out of fear of potential litigation.


Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a vital tool in determining the specific first aid requirements of a workplace. It’s important to recognise that your particular needs may be distinct and tailored to the nature of your work and the characteristics of your workplace, including potential hazards and its overall size.

The duty of performing risk assessment falls upon the employer or, in cases of self-employment, the individual. They must personally undertake a risk assessment in their workplace or designate a qualified individual possessing the requisite knowledge, experience and expertise to perform this crucial task. This process ensures a comprehensive understanding of potential risks and hazards, allowing for the establishment of effective safety measures.


Appropriate Qualifications for First Aiders

First aiders can either be individuals from within your workforce or individuals who have received formal training. To ensure their effectiveness, your chosen first aiders should meet the following criteria:

  • Possess a nationally recognised statement of attainment issued by a registered training organisation.
  • Engage in regular training to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.

In some situations, specialised training may be required, particularly when:

  • Work is conducted in remote or isolated locations.
  • There are potential risks associated with hazardous substances.
  • Specialised first aid equipment or a designated first aid room is necessary.
  • Children are present in the workplace.
  • Psychological risks have been identified.
  • Workers have pre-existing medical conditions that may necessitate specific first aid protocols.

The appropriate ratio of first aiders to workers should be maintained:

  • One first aider for every 50 workers in low-risk workplaces (e.g. office settings).
  • One first aider for every 25 workers in high-risk workplaces (e.g. construction sites).
  • One first aider for every 10 workers in remote high-risk workplaces (e.g. mining operations).


Empowering Workplaces through Accredited First Aid and Mental Health Training

Nationally accredited, first aid courses and mental health first aid training stand as pivotal investments in workplace safety, with far-reaching impacts. Beyond the immediate benefits of adept emergency response, this training cultivates a culture of compassion and support that can save lives in critical situations. Moreover, it significantly enhances productivity by reducing downtime due to accidents and illnesses. In the long run, this proactive approach not only to safety legislation preserves lives but also safeguards the financial health of both individuals and the organisation.

The process is simple. All you need to do to get started and set your workplace on the right path is to enrol in a first aid course with Skills Training College. Our nationally recognised training is delivered by a passionate and dedicated first aid trainer, and includes practical, hands-on training exercises to ensure that when the time comes, you’ll know exactly what to do. We even take group bookings so that way you can ensure your entire workforce is up to the task when a first aid emergency arises. Online first aid courses are also available to assist remote workers.

Our first aid training is thorough, affordable, and open to everyone. You’ll learn everything you need to deliver an effective emergency first aid response. This includes the use of EpiPen, AEDs (defibrillators), CPR, and more. The qualification HLTAID009 Provide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is effectively covered by this course. Don’t wait, accidents can happen at any time. So prepare yourself and your business with first aid training today.