Risk Assessment

cover image saying "first aid risk assessment" followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

Introduction

The ability to conduct a risk assessment for First Aid is critical. DRSABCD is our initial action plan and the first letter is D. D for DANGER.

If you can:

      A. Identify any HAZARDS,

      B. Recognise the RISKS,

And,

     C. Implement control measures,

you can make First Aid, and the spaces you work, live and play in, a lot safer for everyone.

In this article, I am going to explain the difference between a hazard and a risk, discuss how to conduct a risk assessment for first aid and, talk about control measures.

Risk assessment – a step by step process

To help manage risks in the workplace there is a step-by-step process you can follow.

By thinking about what could go wrong and what the consequences could be, you can then do whatever is ‘reasonably practicable ‘ to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks.

What is a hazard?

A hazard is something that poses a threat to life, health, property, or even the environment.

For example, you have a beautiful, inviting, swimming pool in your backyard. It’s a hot day and you want to go for a swim. You stand on the edge of the pool, ready to dive in. There’s just one problem. In the pool is a whopping Great White shark!

However, it’s so hot, you really, REALLY… need to dive in.

In this scenario, the shark is the hazard. A hazard that, should you dive in, poses a threat to your health or even your life.

What is a risk?

A risk is a chance (big or small) that a hazard could hurt or damage someone or something.

In our shark in the pool scenario, it is obvious that if you dived in there is a huge likelihood the shark will attack you and cause major damage to your body.

These are the risks – Torn off limbs. Chunks bitten from your torso. Severe blood loss. Death. ( Maybe it’s not that hot after all? ) Not to mention all that flesh and bone clogging up the pool filter.

So, it follows, understanding the difference between a hazard and a risk is important so you can properly plan your risk management strategy.

Step by step process

This process is known as risk management and involves four steps

1. Identify hazards—find out what could cause harm.

2. Assess risks – if necessary—understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening.

3. Control risks – implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and ensure it is still effective over time.

4. Review – hazards and control measures to ensure they are working as planned

Step 1 – Identify the hazard

By walking around your home or workplace, with a checklist, you can identify any hazards. Don’t forget, A hazard is anything that could cause harm or have a negative impact.

Things like broken or dangerous equipment, a poorly written procedures or bad practices. Staff not well trained for the workplace or equipment. Clutter and rubbish around the home or office, restricting movement and creating a fire hazard. A shark in the pool.

Step 2 – Assess the risks

Now that you have identified the hazard you need to assess the risk of harm or potential harm and also,

•  How likely is it to happen?

•  How serious is the outcome? What are the consequences?

Let’s look at our shark in the pool. What is the potential harm? I listed them above. What’s the probability of it happening? That is, how likely is that to happen? Could be almost certain if you dive in.

Therefore, when you are assessing the risks, you can rate the Probability Question By using:

Unlikely, Possible, Likely and Almost Certain.

Next, how serious are the consequences? These will fall into three categories.

  1. MINOR RISK – unlikely to cause long-term problems so you accept the risk and continue.
  2. MODERATE RISK – where you complete a risk assessment and go ahead if risk is worth  accepting
  3. SIGNIFICANT RISK – this is a risk that needs careful planning and consideration before going ahead. Involving others in decision-making, following policy guidance and practice, and identifying roles and responsibilities.

You can now evaluate the risks even further by combining the PROBABILITY results, with the SEVERITY of the risk.

For example, with our Shark (Hazard) in the pool, you find that it is Unlikely (Probability) you will go for a swim, then it would be of minor consequences (Seriousness), therefore the risk is a Low Priority for management – which is the lowest priority.

On the other end of the scale, if you found that the probability of you diving in is Almost Certain then that is a Significant Risk, with extreme consequences, requiring urgent priority for management.

Consequences for risk management are rated – Low, Moderate, High and Significant.

Step 3 – Control the Risks

Once you have identified the Severity of the risk and the consequences, you need to implement some control measure.

Controls are actions you can take to manage and reduce the risk.

There is a Hierarchy of Control, made up of different levels and control methods for us to follow.

They are

Level 1 – Elimination.

  • That is, remove the hazard.

Level 2 – Substitution,

  • Replace the hazardous item or process.
  • Isolation, separate people from the hazard.
  • Engineering, replace equipment with a more ergonomic style.

Level 3 – Administrative

  • Change procedures or rosters.
  • Use PPE to minimise risk.

Step 4 – Review

Reviewing and ongoing monitoring of the risk or potential harm is needed to ensure it continues to be managed as a low risk.

Throughout this process, you need to be vigilant in scanning and assessing any risk.

This can be done with safety checks, regular WHS inspections, and making it a regular topic at team meetings.

We can put these all together using our example of the shark in the pool.  You found that it was a significant risk with extreme consequences. But, you can use the top level of control here which is the elimination of the risk by removing the shark.  This reduces the risk to low priority, minor consequences, unlikely to happen.

While it sounds like a complicated process it’s not. When you think about it, keeping your first aid activities or workplace safe is just a matter of being vigilant and acting if you see something unsafe or likely to cause harm.

Most businesses and organisations will have a risk assessment matrix which simplifies the risk assessment process to make it easier for you.

Conclusion

The main points to remember are:

• A hazard is something that poses a threat to life, health, property, or even the environment

• A risk is the chance – big or small – that a hazard could hurt or damage someone or something.

• Use a Risk Assessment Matrix to determine the likelihood and consequence of hazards and risks. You can find a free Risk Assessment Matrix here. (Thanks to the Dept. of Education and Training)

Don’t forget to keep your First Aid Certificate current. ( Blog ” How long does a First Aid Certificate last”) This will eliminate the risk of your being an untrained workplace first aider.

Well, that’s that. Until next time… Stay safe.

Adrian

First Aid Policies, Procedures and Guidelines.

cover image with the title: First aid Policies, Procedures and Guidelines followed by Life Saving First Aid logo

Introduction

In this article, we are going to look at some of the policies, procedures, guidelines, and legal aspects of First Aid.

Things like, Duty of Care, ARC Guidelines, consent and other relevant policies and regulations.

It is important to know about these because they offer you protection from legal action if, and when, you provide First Aid.

And that’s a good thing… Right?

What is First Aid?

First Aid is the initial care you can give to a person who is injured or has fallen ill until an ambulance or other help arrives. Therefore, knowledge of First Aid is important for everyday activities and of course in the workplace.

Some of you may become responsible for the provision of First Aid in your workplace. All of you may have to provide First Aid to someone in the community.

To be effective and safe when providing First Aid to someone, you should be aware of these policies and procedures.

ARC Guidelines

According to the ARC, "the ARC Guidelines shall be resource documents for individuals and organisations that teach and practise resuscitation..”  You can review the ARC Guidelines here - resus.org.au

First Aid training in Australia is aligned with the guidelines provided by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC).

According to the ARC, “the ARC Guidelines shall be resource documents for individuals and organisations that teach and practise resuscitation…”

This provides a standard starting point for First Aid training providers and all the training material at Life Saving First Aid is based on the ARC Guidelines. You can review the ARC Guidelines here – resus.org.au

Duty Of Care

A Duty of Care when providing First Aid means to provide care to an injured or ill person appropriate to the level of your First Aid training, skills, and limitations. Acting in good faith, with reasonable care, using available equipment and resources according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  If you can, you should try to prevent further harm to the casualty by staying with them until the ambulance or medical personnel arrive or you need to leave to call for assistance.  By staying with them you can monitor their condition and respond to any changes in their condition or the environment.

As a First Aider or general member of the public, you are not legally required to help or aid another person.

However, If you do decide to provide First Aid to someone in the community then, as a First Aider, you have a Duty of Care.

A Duty of Care when providing First Aid means to provide care to an injured or ill person appropriate to the level of your First Aid training, skills, and limitations. This means acting in good faith, with reasonable care, and using available equipment and resources according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you can, you should try to prevent further harm to the casualty. Stay with them until the ambulance or medical personnel arrive.

By staying with them, you can monitor their condition and respond to any changes in their condition or the environment.

Conscious or unconscious, adult or child, you have a Duty of Care to show respectful behaviour towards the casualty regarding beliefs, culture and as a person. Also, to be kind and reassuring, providing comfort, dignity and, wherever possible, privacy.

You have a Duty of Care to yourself as well. It is important for your safety and the protection of your casualty, that you use Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when you are providing First Aid. PPE is things like Gloves, Face Shields, Eye protection etc.

Speaking of protection, let’s have a look at the Good Samaritan Act/Law. 

The Good Samaritan Act 

The Good Samaritan Law applies whether you are a trained First Aider or not. What is important for you to remember as a First Aider is that you must provide care to an injured or ill person appropriate to the level of your First Aid training, skills and limitations. You should also act in their best interests.

Included in First Aid policies, procedures and Guidelines is the definition of a Good Samaritan.

 “A Good Samaritan is a person who decides to act in good faith by assisting a person who is injured or at risk of being injured and not expecting payment or a reward for their efforts.

“A person who is acting in good faith in providing assistance to someone in need is protected from any personal liability in an emergency situation” under the Good Samaritan laws.

Whether you are a trained First Aider or not, the Good Samaritan Law applies.

Remember, as a First Aider you must provide care to an injured or ill person appropriate to the level of your First Aid training, skills and limitations. You should also act in their best interests.

At the time of writing this, no First Aider in Australia has faced a lawsuit and lost for providing first aid within their level of training.

Workplace Codes of Practice

Codes of practice for First Aid provide practical guidance on how to achieve the standards of work health and safety required under the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety Regulations (the WHS Regulations) and effective ways to identify and manage risks.  They can be found on the Safe Work Australia website and provide advice on How many First Aid kits your workplace requires

If you are a designated workplace First Aider, important policies, procedures and guidelines you need to know about are the Work Health and Safety Act Codes of Practice for First Aid and your duty of care.

Codes of practice for First Aid provide practical guidance on how to achieve the standards of work health and safety required under the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety Regulations (the WHS Regulations) and effective ways to identify and manage risks. Read our article for more about risk assessment.

You will find the Codes of Practice on the Safe Work Australia website. They advise on how many First Aid kits your workplace requires, what the First Aid Kits should contain, First Aid training required, maintaining current certificates and so on.

For example, Appendix E of the Codes of Practice for First Aid is a list of the First Aid equipment you need to have in your workplace First Aid kit.

Next time you go to work, find your First Aid kit and check it out.

Familiarise yourself with its location and what it contains. Go to the Codes of Practice Appendix E. See if your First Aid Kit complies with the list of items that should be in it.

If it doesn’t, make a list of the missing items and get your manager or supervisor to organise replacements.

Included in this list, of course, are items of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

During the incident, you should wear PPE such as gloves, face shields, and safety glasses. Wash and sanitize your hands following the incident.

First Aid in the Workplace

As a workplace first aider, you have a Duty of Care to take the appropriate action and provide First Aid treatment to anyone who is ill or injured in your workplace, to the best of your ability. This includes employees and or visitors.

Your workplace should develop policies and procedures for first aid taking into account these legislations, regulations, and codes of practice. In the workplace, a first aider must know where these are located. They provide information for you regarding emergency plans, first aid and reporting incidents.

You will need to understand and adhere to the first aid policies, procedures and guidelines of your organisation.

After the incident, you will be required to complete a report of the incident and undertake a debrief.

Verbal  This simply means that the casualty verbally consents  Implied  Where a casualty may not be able to speak and conveys consent by body language or gestures.  Assumed  If your casualty is unresponsive, or unconscious then consent is assumed, and you can provide assistance  Consent from a minor  If the casualty is a minor, consent from a parent or guardian, if available, must be given.  Consent not given  If consent is not given and you want to provide some help, call 000,

Remember, it is a legal requirement that you obtain consent from an injured or ill person, regardless of their age, ability, health, or mental status, before you assist them with First Aid.

In line with the policies, consent can be VERBAL, IMPLIED, or ASSUMED.

Verbal

This simply means that the casualty verbally consents. For example, if your casualty has a broken arm and they Reply “Yes” when you asked, “ Can I help you? I’m trained in First Aid”. There is your consent.

Implied

Where a casualty may not be able to speak and conveys consent by body language or gestures. For instance, if your casualty was choking and unable to speak, and they nodded or physically indicated “Yes” when you asked, “Can I help you? I’m trained in First Aid,” this would imply consent.

That’s consent

Assumed

It’s pretty obvious that if someone is unconscious, we can’t ask for their consent before we assist them with first aid. Don’t panic the law has you covered. For first aid you can assume your unconscious casualty has given their consent.

Consent from a minor

The parent or guardian must give their consent if the casualty is a minor

For emergency treatment or assisting with a wound or illness, a mature minor could give consent.

If they cannot give consent and there is no parent present, the doctrine of necessity would justify treatment that is reasonably necessary and in the child’s best interests. 

You want to help someone. If they do not give consent. Call 000. Tell the operator what is happening and let them make a decision. They may send an Ambulance to assist.

First Aid Certificate currency

So you can renew your certificate before it expires, know the expiry date.

Your CPR Certificate will expire after 12 months, and your First Aid certificate after 3 years from the issue date. More info about Certificates here (How long does a First Aid certificate last? – Blog article)

Conclusion

So just to Recap:

  •  First Aid policies, procedures and guidelines include: The ARC guidelines relevant to the provision of first aid, first aid guidelines from Australian national peak clinical bodies and Worksafe Codes of Practice.
  •  To apply the First Aid code of practice, your duty of care and privacy policy and the protection of the Good  Samaritan Laws.
  • Remember to use PPE, including resuscitation barrier devices, to protect yourself, and get consent where possible.
  • And, don’t forget there may be a potential need for stress management techniques and support following an incident

Well, that’s that. Until next time… Stay safe.

Adrian