This question follows from an earlier post on signage – Standards for first aid and AED signs (September 14, 2019). Today’s correspondent
… reflecting on the post from September … was wondering whether first aid providers have any further responsibility in this regard? I often see language like “event medical services” or “event health services” used around events and venues, in combination with the provider’s colour scheme, which seems to confuse patrons at times. Furthermore, I often notice extensive emergency and evacuation plans displayed which often include all kinds of information about a fire but rarely offer any indication of First Aid or AED locations – which I find rather odd. How often does a business face a building fire compared to medical emergencies or smaller injuries?
The answer is that no even first aid providers don’t have any particular obligations with respect to signage.
The critical issue for any person conducting a business or undertaking (a PCBU) is that they have to have emergency and first aid facilities in place. That’s true whether the undertaking is a traditional office workplace or running a public function where event first aid providers have been contracted to provide first aid services to employees and visitors.
The Model Work Health and Safety Regulations (15 January 2019 and adopted in all states and territories other than WA and Victoria) say
42 Duty to provide first aid
(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure:
(a) the provision of first aid equipment for the workplace; and
(b) that each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment; and
(c) access to facilities for the administration of first aid.
43 Duty to prepare, maintain and implement emergency plan
(1) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace, that provides for the following:
(a) emergency procedures, including:
(i) an effective response to an emergency; and
(ii) evacuation procedures; and
(iii) notifying emergency service organisations at the earliest opportunity; and
(iv) medical treatment and assistance; and
(v) effective communication between the person authorised by the person conducting the business or undertaking to coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the workplace;…
(c) information, training and instruction to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures.
One might think that a plan is of no effect unless it is communicated and one way to ensure that people have ‘access to facilities for the administration of first aid’ is to make sure they know where those facilities, whether it’s a staffed first aid post or an AED, actually are. In some circumstances it might be said that a PCBU has failed to meet its duties to work health and safety if there is inadequate information or signage but that does depend on all the circumstances. There is not however a clear obligation or binding standard on signage.
It is interesting that the obligation with respect to an emergency plan includes an obligation to provide ‘information … to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures’ and that may explain why my correspondent can ‘often notice extensive emergency and evacuation plans displayed which often include all kinds of information about a fire but rarely offer any indication of First Aid or AED locations’.
Of course a prudent PCBU would have regard to standards and the code of conduct for first aid but saying that takes us back to the original post – Standards for first aid and AED signs (September 14, 2019).