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All workers must be provided with first aid facilities, equipment and access to first aiders. This guide has advice on what you need to consider when deciding what first aid equipment and facilities you need at work, and suggests ways to help you organise your first aid kits, facilities, and first aiders.
1.0 Key points
- First aid is the immediate and basic care given to an injured or sick person before a doctor, other health professional or emergency services take over their
- Providing first aid is an important part of providing a safe and healthy work environment but it does not replace the need to assess work risks and eliminate or minimise
- Under the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016, PCBUs have a duty to provide first aid for their workers at work.
- A PCBU must not impose a levy or charge on a worker for anything done or provided in relation to health and safety, including the provision of first aid kits and
- This guide has advice on what you need to consider when deciding what first aid equipment and facilities you need at work, and suggests ways to help you organise your first aid kits, facilities, and first
- In an emergency, phone 111.
Who is this guide for?
This guide is for PCBUs. A PCBU is a person conducting a business or undertaking. In most cases, a PCBU will be an organisation (for example, a business entity such as a company), although a PCBU can be an individual person (for example, a sole trader).
- Businesses are usually run to make a profit.
- Undertakings are usually not profit-making or commercial (for example, a hospital).
What is first aid?
First aid is the immediate and basic care given to an injured or sick person before a doctor, other health professional or emergency services take over their treatment. It focuses on preserving life and minimising serious injury. For example, maintaining breathing and circulation, stopping bleeding, and stabilising broken arms or legs.
As the PCBU, there are three main things you need to think about when deciding what first aid equipment and facilities your workplace needs:
- Do you have enough first aid kits and facilities (for example, some workplaces may need a first aid room as well)?
- How many first aiders do you need? First aiders are workers who have been trained to give first aid.
- What type of information do you need to give workers about first aid?
This guide suggests ways to help you organise your kits, facilities, first aiders, and information for workers.
Involving your workers in decisions about first aid
You must, so far as is reasonably practicable, engage with your workers on health and safety matters that will directly affect them. This includes first aid. Involve your workers – get their ideas, ask them what they think the risks are at work and what first aid equipment and facilities they think is needed.
Providing first aid information to workers
All workers must be given clear information about the first aid available at their workplace, including the:
- location of first aid kits
- names and locations of first aiders
- location of a first aid room (if there is one), and
- procedures to follow when they need first aid.
This information should be given:
- when a worker is first employed (for example, at induction)
- when there is a change in the nature or location of their work
- when there is a change in first aiders (for example, if a first aider leaves or a new one is added)
- at regular intervals as a reminder (for example, annually).
3.0 First aid requirements for your workplace – what to think about
A workplace is any place where a worker goes or is likely to be while at work, or where work is being carried out or is customarily carried out.
When considering what first aid equipment, facilities and first aiders you need, consider the nature of the work carried out for your business as well as the physical locations where the work is done.
All workers, including those working night shifts or outside of usual working hours, must be able to access first aid equipment, first aiders, and the first aid room (if your workplace has one).
Table 1 has more information about this.
|Consider||What this means|
|Nature of the work and its risks||
Some work environments have a greater risk of injury and illness due to the nature of the work. For example, workers in factories, motor vehicle workshops, and forestry operations have a high risk of injuries requiring immediate medical treatment and require different first aid arrangements than, say, workers in offices or libraries. See Appendix A for a table of common injuries.
Information about previous injuries or near misses at your workplace, their frequency and the amount of harm caused, may also be useful in helping you decide what kind of first aid facilities or equipment you need to make available.
|Physical size and location of the workplace||
First aid equipment and facilities (for example, a first aid room) should be easy for all workers to access, ideally within minutes in an emergency. Consider:
You may need to provide first aid equipment and facilities in more than one part of your workplace if:
|Number and composition of workers and other people at work||
Consider the maximum number of workers you could have, including contractors and volunteer workers. Generally, a large workforce needs more first aid resources. Also think about:
When the work of two or more PCBUs overlaps, they must communicate, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities to meet their health and safety responsibilities to workers and others.
By consulting with each other, they can avoid duplicating their efforts and prevent any gaps in managing work health and safety risks.
For example, as part of their duty to provide first aid, a group of PCBUs working in the same shopping centre complex could work together to provide trained first aiders and a first aid room for all workers in the complex.
Table 1: First aid requirements for your workplace
First aid and the risk management process
4.0 First aid equipment and facilities
First aid kits
You must provide at least one first aid kit for each workplace and ensure workers know where it is.
Kits should contain basic equipment for attending to injuries, such as:
- cuts, scratches, punctures, grazes and splinters
- soft tissue sprains and strains
- minor burns
- broken bones
- eye injuries, and
What you put in the kit should be based on the particular risks of the work carried out at your workplace. For example, there is likely to be a higher risk of eye injuries and a need for eye pads if your workers:
- handle chemical liquids or powders in open containers
- carry out spraying, hosing or abrasive blasting
- are at risk of particles flying into their eyes
- are at risk of being splashed or sprayed with infectious materials, or
- carry out welding, cutting or machining operations.
Figure 1 shows the suggested contents of a work first aid kit. You may also want to consider including a small notebook and pen to record things such as dates, times, observations, equipment used.
If you have workers in remote or isolated locations, you must provide them with a basic first aid kit (described on the previous page) as well as extra first aid equipment if required.
Figure 2 shows some extra contents for a first aid kit for remote or isolated workers. You may also want to consider including a small notebook and pen to record things such as dates, times, observations, equipment used. This is a suggestion only – the actual contents will depend on the nature of the work carried out and its risks.
For remote or isolated workers, you must provide a plan for how they will get help if injured or ill. See our Interpretive guidelines General Risk and Workplace Management – Part 2 for more information (section 3.1).
Medication in first aid kits
If you choose to provide pain relief medication like aspirin or paracetamol in first aid kits, be aware that these can make certain people (such as pregnant women) ill.
Pain relief medicine in a work first aid kit should only be in pack sizes which are available when purchased over the counter as General Sale or Pharmacy Only medicines. Keep pain relief medicine in the manufacturer’s original pack as this will have all the relevant information about correct dose, precautions/warnings, batch number and expiry date.
This medicine can only be given by someone who is medically trained to do so, otherwise it should only be self-administered by the worker. (That is, they choose to take it themselves.)
Design of kits
First aid kits can be any size, shape or type, but each kit should:
- be clearly labelled ‘First Aid Kit’. Most kits have a white cross on a green background
- have a list of what is in the kit, and
- be made of material that will protect the contents from dust, moisture and contamination.
Location of kits, including in vehicles
First aid equipment should be easy for all workers to access, ideally within minutes in an emergency or when doing work with a high risk of injuries. For example, a school with a science laboratory or carpentry workshop should have a first aid kit in each.
Where there are separate work areas (for example, more than one building on a site or more than one floor in a building) there should be a first aid kit in each area.
Emergency floor plans or site maps displayed in the workplace should show where the first aid kits are located.
Use first aid signs to clearly show the location of first aid equipment and first aid rooms.
You must provide a portable first aid kit in the vehicles of mobile workers if that is their workplace (for example, couriers, taxi drivers, sales representatives, bus drivers, inspectors). The kit must be located in a secure place within the vehicle, where it will not move and cause injury or damage in a collision.
Maintaining and restocking first aid kits
It is good practice to nominate a person at your work, perhaps a first aider, to maintain the first aid kits. The person should:
- monitor usage of the kit and ensure items are replaced as soon as practicable after use
- at least once every 12 months, ensure the kit contains a complete set of the required items. An inventory list should be kept in the kit and signed and dated after each check
- ensure items are in working order, are within their expiry dates, and sterile products are still sealed.
Other first aid equipment
In addition to first aid kits, consider whether you need other first aid equipment.
Automated external defibrillators
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can prolong life but an automated external defibrillator (AED) is the only way to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
Consider providing an AED if there:
- is a risk to your workers of being electrocuted
- is likely to be a delay in an ambulance arriving at your workplace (for example, because of distance), or
- are large numbers of members of the public at your workplace.
AEDs can be used by trained or untrained people. They should be located in an area that is clearly visible, accessible and not exposed to extreme temperatures. They should be clearly signed and be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Emergency eyewash equipment
Provide emergency eyewash equipment if workers could be splashed in the eye with chemicals or infectious substances. Eyewash stations can be permanently fixed or portable, depending on the needs of your workers. Use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Emergency shower equipment
Provide emergency shower equipment or facilities if workers are at risk of:
- being exposed to hazardous chemicals that can be absorbed into their skin
- being contaminated by infectious substances
- burns to a large area of their face or body
- chemical or electrical burns or burns that are deep, in sensitive areas or larger than a New Zealand $2 coin.
Shower facilities could be a:
- deluge shower (pictured below left)
- permanent hand-held shower hose, or
- portable plastic or rubber shower hose that can easily be attached to a tap spout. This could suit small, relatively low-risk workplaces where a fixed deluge facility would not be reasonably practicable, but where there is a risk of serious burns (for example, a fish and chip shop).
Shower equipment can be permanently fixed or portable, depending on the needs of your workers.
First aid rooms
You should consider providing a first aid room if your risk assessment indicates it would be difficult to give people first aid without one.
Some things to consider include:
- the distance between different work areas
- how long it would take emergency services to reach your workplace
- if you have remote or isolated workers.
For example, you may decide you need a first aid room if your risk assessment indicates it would be safer to give first aid out of the way of business operations (for example, away from machinery); if your workplace is located a long way from the nearest hospital or medical centre (for example, an oil/gas rig, a farm); if your workplace has a high risk of serious and frequent injuries.
The location and size of the room should allow easy access and movement of injured people, noting they could need to be supported or moved by stretcher or wheelchair.
Figure 7 shows the suggested contents of a first aid room.
The room should:
- be within easy access to a sink with hot and cold water (if not provided in the room) and toilet facilities
- offer privacy via screening or a door
- be available to all workers including those working night shifts
- be easily accessible to emergency services, with a minimum door width of 1m for stretcher access
- be well-lit and ventilated
- have an appropriate floor area, 14m2 as a guide, and
- have an entrance clearly marked with first aid signage.
Removing first aid waste
Place items with blood or body substances into plastic bags and securely tie or seal the bag. Dispose of the bag as part of your usual waste disposal.
Dispose of needles or other sharp instruments in a sharps disposal container and arrange for its collection by a sharps waste disposal service.
Handling/cleaning up blood or body substances
When providing first aid to an injured or ill person, first aiders could come into contact with blood or body substances. These can transfer infections to the first aider or other people they treat.
First aiders should wash their hands with soap and water or apply alcohol-based hand rub before and after administering first aid. First aiders should also wear PPE, including disposable gloves, to prevent contact with blood and body substances. Eye protection, a surgical mask and protective clothing may also be necessary if splashes of blood or body substances are likely to occur.
5.0 First aiders
Decide how many first aiders you need
First aiders are workers trained to give first aid. You must provide your own first aiders at the workplace or provide your workers with access to other trained first aiders (for example, from nearby businesses).
When thinking about how many trained first aiders you need, consider:
- the number of workers at the workplace at any given time
- the nature of the work they do and its risks
- the likelihood of people being hurt, and how serious the injuries might be
- the physical size of the workplace and whether workers are scattered across different parts of it
- the location of the workplace and its distance from ambulance services, medical centres and hospitals
- whether other people (for example, members of the public) visit the workplace.
Allow for some of your first aiders to be absent on planned or unplanned leave, such as sick leave.
Here are some examples to help you think about how many first aiders you might need:
- Kalena runs a small IT company that employs three people and is based in the city next door to a medical centre. The nature of the work carried out at her company is low-risk. She does not have any trained first aiders because workers can go to the medical centre next door for first aid.
- Tāne’s company builds tiny houses and employs eight people. As the nature of his company’s work is high-risk, he has two trained first aiders.
- Pat owns a large vineyard about half an hour’s drive from medical and ambulance services. She has two first aiders for every 10 workers.
- Arjun owns a large telephone contact centre in a suburban area. The nature of the work carried out at the contact centre is low-risk. Arjun always has two first aiders present for every 50 workers.
Training for first aiders
We recommend workers be trained in first aid by an organisation accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
When each first aider has completed the course, the training provider will issue them with a first aid certificate which is generally valid for two years.
After two years, first aiders should get refresher training to keep their certificate current and to update their knowledge.
The Australian and New Zealand Committee on Resuscitation (ANZCOR) recommends that CPR skills be refreshed at least annually but, as this may not be feasible for all industries, ANZCOR considers that refresher training for first aiders every two years is a good opportunity for people to practise their skills and keep up to date with the latest techniques.
If it would take some time for emergency services to reach your workplace, consider additional training for your first aiders in advanced techniques (for example, providing oxygen). If you need more information about first aid training, contact the Association of Emergency Care Training Providers(external link)
6.0 Reviewing your first aid requirements
Together with your workers, regularly review your first aid arrangements to ensure they remain adequate and effective.
- Check that the workers who have responsibilities under your first aid procedures are familiar with them.
- If the way work is performed changes, or you introduce new work practices, review your first aid arrangements to make sure they are still appropriate.
- Organise a practice first aid emergency to make sure your first aid procedures are effective. Check kits and first aid rooms are easily accessible and suit the risks unique to your workplace.
- If an incident has occurred requiring first aid, evaluate the effectiveness of the first aid provided and make changes if necessary.
- If you get new information about a previously unidentified risk, review your first aid measures.
The questions in Table 2 can help you review your first aid and assess whether it could be improved.
7.0 More information
- Emergency plans
- Interpretive guidelines, General Risk and Workplace Management – Part 2
- Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Notifiable events
- Overlapping duties
- Reasonably practicable
- Worker engagement and participation
- HSWA, section 36 (external link)
- HSWA, section 45 (external link)
- HSWA, section 46 (external link)
- HSWA, section 58(external link)
- Regulations, section 13 (external link)
- Regulations, section 14(external link)
Appendix A: Injuries associated with common work hazards that may require first aid
|Animals||Bites, stings, kicks, crush injuries, scratches, allergic reactions|
|Biological (for example toxins, viruses)||Infections, allergic reactions|
|Electricity||Shock, burns, heart attack|
|Extreme temperatures||Burns, heat-related illness, reduced concentration, feeling tired, hypothermia, frostbite|
|Chemicals||Poisoning, chemical burns, irritation|
|Machinery and equipment||Bruises, broken bones, deep cuts, separation of joints (dislocations), amputation|
|Manual tasks||Muscle strains|
|Radiation||Burns, sunburn, skin cancers, eye damage|
|Vehicles||Bruises, broken bones, separation of joints (dislocations), deep cuts|
|Violence||Physical and psychological injuries|
|Working at height or on uneven or slippery surface||Bruises, broken bones, deep cuts, separation of joints (dislocations), concussion|
All tables courtesy of the ‘First aid in the workplace Code of Practice, May 2018’ from Safe Work Australia.
Appendix B: Example of a first aid assessment
This assessment of first aid requirements is an example only.
Appendix C: What the law says
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s key work health and safety legislation. All work and workplaces are covered by HSWA unless specifically excluded.
The Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) sit under HSWA and set out a number of duties around general workplace issues.
We are the government agency that is the work health and safety regulator. For a list of work health and safety regulations, see our Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)
Primary duty of care
You must make sure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other people are not put at risk from the work of your business or undertaking.
Involving workers (worker engagement)
You must, so far as is reasonably practicable, engage with your workers on health and safety matters that will directly affect them (for example, first aid).
You must have worker participation practices that give your workers reasonable opportunities to participate in improving health and safety on an ongoing basis.
Duty to provide first aid
You have a duty to provide first aid to your workers. Under the Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016:
- you (the PCBU) must provide adequate first aid equipment for your workplace
- your workers must have access to that first aid equipment and to first aid facilities (for example, a first aid room if appropriate)
- your workers must have access to an adequate number of trained first aiders, either trained workers at your workplace or other people (for example, at a local medical centre or hospital). It is also good practice for one of your workers to be trained in CPR (cardio- pulmonary resuscitation).
- HSWA, section 36(external link)
- Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- HSWA, section 58(external link)
- Worker engagement and participation
- Regulations, section 13(external link)
Workers have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and not adversely affect the health and safety of other people. Workers must comply with reasonable instructions and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace that has been notified to them.
Other persons at the workplace (for example, visitors, members of the public)
Other persons have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and not adversely affect the health and safety of anyone else. They must comply with reasonable instructions relating to health and safety at the workplace.
Appendix D: Need to know
What ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ means
Health and safety duties need to be carried out so far as is reasonably practicable. There are two parts to this. First consider what is possible in your circumstances to ensure health and safety. Then consider, of these possible actions, what is reasonable to do in your circumstances. Consider:
- How likely is the risk? How severe is the illness or injury that might result?
- What do you know, or should you reasonably know, about the risk and the ways of eliminating or minimising it?
- What is the availability of the control measures? How suitable are they for the specific risk?
- What are the costs of the control measure? Are the costs grossly disproportionate to the risk?
See our Reasonably practicable for more information.
You must have an emergency plan for your workplace that includes information for workers about:
- how to respond in an emergency
- evacuation procedures
- how to contact emergency services
- medical treatment and assistance procedures
- procedures to ensure effective communication between the person authorised to coordinate the emergency response and all other persons at the workplace.
You must maintain the emergency plan for your workplace so that it remains effective.
You could also include a detailed floor plan showing where emergency and first aid equipment are located.
See emergency plans for more information.
Notifying WorkSafe of an injury, illness or incident
You must notify WorkSafe when certain work-related events occur.
A notifiable event is when any of the following occurs as a result of work:
- a death
- notifiable illness or injury. All injuries or illnesses that require (or would usually require) a person to be admitted to hospital for immediate treatment are notifiable
- a notifiable incident. A notifiable incident is where a person’s health and safety is seriously endangered or threatened, or which had the potential to cause serious injury, illness or death.
If someone has been killed as a result of work, you MUST notify WorkSafe immediately. Phone 0800 030 040 (24/7). In an emergency, phone 111.
See what events need to be notified for more information about notifiable injuries, illnesses and incidents.