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First Aid Compliance in Schools and Educational Settings

Updated: May 25

Education and learning new skills are incredibly important. We only need to ask our educators that!

As parents and carers, we send our children off to day care, kindy, prep, primary or high school to learn skills that will hold them in good stead for a lifetime. We trust that our educators have the skills, confidence and professionalism to support our children to navigate the curriculum.

What about the compliance requirements to be first aid prepared in schools?

  • Who educates the educators?

  • How do they stay current with their skills?

  • What do they need to know?

Who educates the educators? Teachers are often in the position as first responders

Do you recall the tragic incident in 2017? - whereby a young 5-year-old student with special needs (who often mouthed foods and objects) choked on a nectarine stone and died whilst at school.

An inquest was held in 2022, to prompt questions about the competency requirements of first aid responders within schools and whether the teachers were able to effectively respond.

"A staggering 94% of Australians are unsure of their ability to help in an emergency"

St Johns Ambulance Australia

Let’s explore this in more detail to review compliance requirements for education settings and what that exactly means for educators.

Every workplace in Australia, including the education sector are required to:-

  • Provide First Aid equipment,

  • Ensure each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment,

  • Provide access to facilities for administering first aid,

  • Provide an adequate number of workers that are trained to administer first aid, or workers to have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid.

Let’s talk about access to equipment. Think first about the vast variety of situations in an education setting where equipment may need to be on hand, to respond effectively. (this list is not exhaustive!)

  • Swimming carnivals

  • Classrooms such as Industrial Skills, Science Labs, Hospitality

  • Playgrounds

  • Camps/Excursions

  • Sporting carnivals

  • Sports Days/Inter School Sports

  • Special Needs Classrooms

  • School Pick Up/Drop off

Do you have access to First Aid Kits (stocked with the right equipment?)

The Code of Practice also requires workplaces to determine ‘an adequate number of workers’ that are trained to administer first aid.

What does the Code of Practice say?

The following ratio’s are recommended:-

  • Low Risk Workplaces – one first aider for every 50 workers

  • High Risk Workplaces – one first aider for every 25 workers.

  • Remote High-Risk Workplaces – one first aider for every 10 workers

Let’s crunch some numbers (these figures taken from the 2019 Annual Report for Ipswich State High School, Qld)

  • 1763 students

  • 131 teachers

  • 76 non-teaching staff

Perhaps you are thinking 207 teachers and non-teaching staff (workers) in this example. If the school/education setting was ‘low risk’ – that equates to approx. 4 First Aid Officers required.

What do you think?

Let’s go back to the Code of Practice to delve further.

"When considering the size of your workforce, you should include contractors, subcontractors and volunteers you engage. This may mean the size of your workforce may vary over time. For the purposes of deciding who requires access to first aid, you should consider the maximum number of workers you may engage at one time. Generally, a larger workforce requires more first aid resources”

We can see that we also need to include other ‘workers’ into our consideration of factoring first aid requirements.

Is there more to include?

You should also consider:

  • the particular needs of workers who have a disability or a known health concern for example asthma or allergies, and

  • others at your workplace who are not your workers, for example:

students in schools and education facilities

(Source: WHSQ, First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice 2021)

Let’s go back to our original numbers.

The figure we need to realistically consider in establishing the appropriate numbers of first aid officers is:

  • 1970 (as you need to factor the number of people which includes students too, in the ‘work’ area).

This is the number of people we include in your First Aid Risk Assessment. We now move to the next stage which is an understanding of the risks within your school/educational setting:

Does your school/educational setting have:-

  • Children or teachers diagnosed with anaphylaxis?

  • Children or teachers diagnosed with asthma?

  • Children identified with special needs and/or on regular medication?

  • Students who play contact sport?

  • Teachers that are managing high risk behaviours?

Now think of the environment:-

  • Does the setting have an on-site pool?

  • Located on a main road?

  • Multi storey building with difficulty accessing site/lots of stairs?

  • Provide cooking/hospitality classes, industrial skills classes, science labs?

  • Is it in a remote regional/rural setting?

  • What is the distance to medical help, distance to a hospital?

  • What is the expected response times for arrival of emergency services?

And remember to add:-

  • What kind of incidents have happened in the last 12 months?

"Injuries are the leading cause of death in Australian children, accounting for nearly half of all deaths"

Australian Bureau of Statistics

Conduct a First Aid Risk Assessment to understand how many First Aid Officers you require

Essentially you are determining a first aid risk assessment to ascertain:

  • What First Aid equipment you need (including epi-pens, Ventolin, spacers, AED’s)

  • How many First Aid Officers you require to be able to effectively respond.

  • Where you require First Aid Equipment and facilities (portable, fixed, available in vehicles etc)

Once you have conducted a First Aid Risk Assessment to include all of the above, then the compliance for your schools will be better understood.

There may be overarching requirements specific to your school/educational setting documented further in school or centre policies and these should be referred to for guidance and included in your Risk Assessment.

Often education settings have very specific requirements for both the training and equipment requirements for effective response of anaphylaxis and asthma.

Teaching our teachers how to administer an Epi-Pen

"Unintentional injuries account for about 88% of all injury related deaths in children and about 97% of all injury related hospitalisations"

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

There is very specific compliance requirements for Child Care Centres and Child Care settings. Check compliance requirements for Child Care Centres/Child Care Settings. Refer to the national regulations at the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) for more information.

At F.A.S.T. First Aid Training, school based training is one of our specialties.

  • Do you find it a bit confusing? (it can be!!)

  • Do you require support?

  • Do you need help with undertaking or completing your First Aid risk assessment?

First Aid Compliance - let us help you take out the guesswork! Book a consultation today.

Sarah Shaw, owner of F.A.S.T. First Aid Training and Workplace Training understands the importance of accurately ascertaining first aid officer ratio's and ensuring adequate equipment is available in the event of an emergency. Sarah offers complimentary consultations to all businesses, to support them in making the best decision for their environment. Sarah would be happy to meet with you and discuss your needs and/or potential first aid equipment needs.

Reach out today to book your complimentary consultation. We look forward to meeting with you.



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