Navigating workplace first aid requirements isn't just about compliance – it's a critical component of employee safety and business readiness. But, understanding these regulations can be somewhat confusing, especially for small to medium-sized businesses that may not have a specialised health and safety officer.

In this helpful guide, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions around workplace first aid requirements.

What are the legal requirements for first aid in New Zealand workplaces?

In New Zealand, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires every workplace to be kitted out with the right first aid gear and have people on hand who know how to use it. But it’s more than about sticking a first aid box on a wall and appointing a first aid officer. Employers need to really think about what specific first aid resources are necessary, based on what their team does all day and the kinds of accidents or health issues that could pop up. This means having trained first aiders ready and making sure help is there when you need it, tailored to the unique needs of your workplace.

How do I know how many first aiders we need?

Deciding on the right number of first aiders for your workplace isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a careful assessment of a few key factors. Here’s a breakdown of what to consider:

Number of employees

The more employees you have, the higher your chances of workplace incidents. It's vital to scale your first aid capabilities accordingly. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest at least one trained first aider for every 10 employees, though this ratio should be increased in higher-risk environments.

Nature of work and risk level

Assessing the risk level is another key factor in determining how many first aiders you need. Consider both the frequency and severity of potential accidents. A construction site or a manufacturing plant will need more first aiders than a retail store or a small office. Higher-risk environments not only need more first aiders but may also require personnel with advanced first aid training.

Distance from medical facilities

Workplaces located in remote areas where medical help is not readily accessible need to be particularly well-prepared. This might mean training more staff in first aid or even specific emergency response skills, such as handling trauma cases or administering life-saving procedures until professional help arrives.

Layout and size of the workplace

Large or complex facilities can pose unique challenges. You need to ensure that every area within your site has easy access to a first aider. If your workspace is spread out over multiple floors or buildings, you’ll need a strategic plan to place first aiders throughout.

Shift patterns and working hours

Businesses that operate on a 24/7 basis or have multiple shifts need to ensure that first aid coverage is consistent across all hours. This means having trained first aiders available on each shift, which may require training additional personnel to cover night shifts and weekends.

By taking all these factors into account, you can tailor your first aid resources to meet the specific needs of your workplace, ensuring all employees have access to immediate and effective medical care when needed. It’s all about being proactive and prepared. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your first aid strategy as your business evolves is key to maintaining a safe working environment.

Is there a benefit to having more employees trained in first aid than the minimum required?

Absolutely, there are several compelling advantages. First and foremost, a higher ratio of trained first aiders enhances overall workplace safety. It ensures that knowledgeable help is readily available, reducing response times during emergencies, which can be crucial for the outcome of medical incidents or injuries.

Additionally, having more trained first aiders fosters a culture of safety and awareness among the workforce. Employees are more likely to be vigilant and can prevent potential hazards before they lead to accidents. This proactive approach not only keeps your team safer but also contributes to a more supportive and cohesive work environment.

What training should first aiders receive?

First aiders should receive training that meets the standards set by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and WorkSafe New Zealand. This way, you know they’re well-equipped to handle workplace emergencies effectively.

The training typically includes a comprehensive set of skills, from basic first aid and CPR to more specific interventions like managing shock, wounds, burns, and fractures.

MediTrain prides itself on offering courses that not only meet but exceed these standards. Our first aid training programs are designed to be thorough and practical, providing both the theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills necessary to confidently respond to various medical emergencies. MediTrain also offers refresher courses to ensure first aiders’ skills and certifications are up to date.

Who is responsible for paying for first aid training?

As a general rule, if training is required by the employer and is part of the employee's normal working hours, then the employer should cover the cost. This applies to scenarios such as new employees who need on-the-job training, including first aid training relevant to specific roles like in early childhood settings.

For training that occurs outside of regular work hours or involves more formal education, the arrangement often requires negotiation between the employer and the employee.

It’s crucial for both parties to discuss upcoming training or study opportunities well in advance and come to a clear agreement on whether the training will be paid.

How often should first aid training be refreshed?

Like any skill, first aid skills knowledge will decline over time. Regular refresher courses help keep skills sharp and knowledge up to date. It's recommended that first aid training be refreshed every two years. Additionally, CPR skills should ideally be refreshed annually.

What should be included in a first aid kit for my workplace?

Packing the right stuff in your workplace first aid kit is crucial, and it should match the specific needs and risks of your environment. A good kit usually includes items such as:

● various sizes of sterile gauze pads and bandages
● adhesive tape
● scissors
● tweezers
● safety pins
● sterile cleansing wipes
● antiseptic cream or spray
● burn dressings
● pain relief medications
● disposable gloves
● resuscitation face shield or mask.

It’s important to consider the specific needs of your workplace environment – for instance, a construction site may require more heavy-duty supplies compared to a typical office setting. Additionally, if you have team members with special medical needs, such as allergies, consider including specific items like adrenaline (epinephrine) injectors (EpiPens) or allergy medications.

For a detailed checklist of recommended supplies based on different workplace scenarios, check out our first aid checklist.

How can I ensure my first aid provisions remain effective over time?

Keeping your first aid setup effective means doing a bit of regular housekeeping. This includes checking your kits often to refill used supplies and replace anything that’s expired.

It’s also wise to periodically review your workplace’s first aid needs – especially if you introduce new processes, equipment, or if your team grows, which might bring new kinds of risks. Setting up a regular review schedule helps keep everything on track and ensures you’re always prepared for any situation.

How can MediTrain help my business manage first aid requirements?

At MediTrain, we tailor our services to fit your specific workplace needs. We offer comprehensive courses that align with NZQA and WorkSafe standards, covering everything from basic first aid to specialised emergency responses.

Beyond training, we can help you set up a custom first aid plan, assess your first aid needs, and make sure you’re ticking all the compliance boxes. We also provide ongoing support for managing your first aid kits, including supplying all the essentials you need to be prepared for any emergency.
Partnering with MediTrain means having a dedicated ally in keeping your workplace safe and sound.

Contact our team today to arrange first aid training for your team – it might just save a life.