2. Nominated first aid officers

Determination of need

Nominated First Aid Officers are appointed on a building basis, i.e. they are appointed to provide first aid throughout a building. Therefore the number and location of NFAOs is determined on the basis of a risk assessment of the needs of the building. Factors to be considered in determining how many NFAOs should be appointed and where they should be located are:

  • the types of work performed and types of classes conducted in the building and the nature of hazards associated with those types of work and classes- laboratories and workshops typically require a higher level of first aid coverage than the office areas with mainly sedentary activities;
  • the typical number and type of occupants of the building, for example staff, students, visitors, general public;
  • the typical operating hours of the building- libraries and other areas operating outside normal daytime weekday hours will need additional coverage for extended hours;
  • coverage of periods when the NFOA is on leave, absent from the building etc;
  • the physical size and layout of the building – large and or complex buildings may need additional coverage to ensure adequate proximity of NFAOs to all parts of the building, particularly areas of higher need such as laboratories and workshops and any secure facilities with restricted access;
  • the proximity of the building and/or campus to emergency service responses and health services- campuses other than Toowoomba may have additional needs due to;
    • absence of on-campus Security Officers trained in first aid;
    • remoteness from ambulance services;
    • absence of on-campus medical service; and
  • if there is a First Aid Room in the building, as one or more Occupational First Aiders will be needed to oversee this room (see sections Role and Appointment of Occupational First Aiders and Determining Where First Aid Rooms are Required for further details).

A Nominated First Aid Officer need not be appointed in a building with fewer than ten occupants provided this is consistent with a low level of risk due to the activities conducted in the building and its close proximity to other sources of First Aid.

USQSafe will assist managers in determining the appropriate NFAO coverage for a building and/or campus in consultation with staff. Where a building is occupied by a number of groups belonging to different Departments, Schools, Faculties and/or Administrative Units, USQSafe will facilitate coordination between the occupant groups for the purpose of reviewing first aid needs.

Selection of staff

The role of Nominated First Aid Officer is a voluntary additional duty. In order to provide effective first aid only staff who meet the following selection criteria will be considered for appointment:

  • willingness and enthusiasm to act in this role,
  • ability to act calmly and take charge in an emergency,
  • evidence of a capacity to deal with injury and illness,
  • ability to assess the situation and know when to call for assistance,
  • ability to relate well to other staff,
  • have no health problems or disabilities that are likely to impede performance of first aid activities,
  • based in one regular location in a building, readily contactable and able to be called away from ordinary work at short notice, and
  • full-time member of the regular staff or on a contract with at least 18 months to run, although regular part-time staff members may be appropriate to provide coverage where the building operates outside normal daytime weekday hours.

Academic staff are not excluded from appointment as NFAOs, however students cannot be appointed as Nominated First Aid Officers.

Training and appointment of NFAOs

Where a staff member does not already have a current approved senior first aid certificate or higher qualification, USQSafe will arrange for the training of staff members who are to be appointed as NFOAs. Funding is to be provided by the faculty/department. The following procedure should be followed:

  • identify vacancy/need – this could be because a NFAO leaves the building or their status changes, or it could be because a Department or Unit in the building or USQSafe Management identifies a need;
  • department contacts USQSafe for NFAO training and appointment form;
  • Department returns completed form signed by Dean, Head of Department, Supervisor or Manager to USQSafe;
  • USQSafe and Organisational Development (OD) contacts staff member to arrange training;
  • staff member attends training and forwards a copy of certificate to USQSafe;
  • USQSafe notifies Human Resources, the department and the newly qualified NFAO for appointment;
  • USQSafe adds new NFAO to intranet list and Emergency Planning/Procedures network; and
  • Chief Warden ensures building occupants are informed of the name and contact details of the new NFAO.

Role of nominated first aid officers

In a first aid emergency a NFAO is expected to take charge and may direct others on the scene to assist with managing the emergency until Emergency Services or more qualified personnel take over. The role of the NFAO encompasses:

  • the provision of service for the emergency treatment of injuries and illness;
  • arranging prompt and appropriate referral of casualties to medial aid if required;
  • recording treatments and reporting incidents – see Section 6 for more details;
  • the maintenance of first aid facilities, including first aid equipment, and keeping clean, checking and restocking first aid kits;
  • liaison with other NFAOs in the building to ensure co-operation in all aspects of the role; and
  • keeping up to date lists of NFAOs, their contact numbers and locations prominently displayed in the building.

Role and appointment of occupational first aiders

Wherever there is a First Aid Room (see section First Aid Facilities), one or more Occupational First Aiders must be appointed to oversee that room. The appointment of Occupational First Aiders should be specifically considered for remote campuses/sites and campuses/sites without a medical centre. The additional training of Occupational First Aiders enables them to deal effectively with more serious injuries and illnesses whilst awaiting ambulance or other medical services.

Factors to consider are:

types of serious injuries and illnesses that could occur due to work activities, particularly those involving machinery, hazardous substances, native animals, dams etc;

  • likely time for an ambulance to respond to the site, hence duration of treatment/support period by the first aider-for example if emergency medical services are more than five minutes distant;
  • availability of staff with medical or related training who would be willing to assist;
  • number of people routinely on campus/site; and
  • whether there is a First Aid room in the building, as a person with a Senior First Aid Certificate is not qualified to be in charge of this room (First Aid Code of Practice 2004, see also First Aid Facilities)

The need for an Occupational First Aider on the campus/site should be determined in consultation with staff most likely to be impacted by the decision, for example those involved in higher risk activities or working more remotely from emergency services.

Management of health information

Staff and students with known medical conditions are encouraged to disclose their conditions and recommended first aid responses to the medical personnel (if applicable on that campus) i.e. Doctor or Campus Nurse. The health information disclosed must be kept confidential in accordance with Privacy Legislation requirements. Any records must be kept by the medical personnel, either the Doctor or the Nurse. (See Health Information for details).

Refresher training

USQSafe co-ordinates regular refresher training for NFAOs. Refresher training includes practical components, such as Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) practice and use of the Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). This is augmented with first aid scenario simulation exercises, which aim to improve situation evaluation and teamwork skills.

Legal protection of nominated first aid officers

Nominated First Aid Officers are protected by vicarious liability when acting in good faith and discharging their responsibilities in accordance with their training. Vicarious liability means that employers are generally held responsible for the acts and omissions of their employees. The University appoints NFAOs to act on its behalf and discharge its responsibilities in relation to providing first aid, so it is clear that in most situations where NFAOs render first aid in the workplace or otherwise in the course of their duties, they will be doing so as employees of the University and vicarious liability will apply.

In addition, at common law, people giving medical treatment to an injured person at an accident site in an emergency (a circumstance in which immediate medical treatment is required to save someone’s life or prevent serious injury to health) cannot be sued for “assault”. Permission to treat an injured person must always be obtained prior to treatment unless the person is unconscious.

Note, however, that protection from personal liability is not available if people:

  • render first aid when their judgement is impaired by drugs (including medications) or alcohol and they fail to exercise reasonable care and skill;
  • caused the injury or risk in the first place; or
  • impersonate an emergency services worker or falsely represent their skill or expertise in responding to the situation.

Whilst the University of Southern Queensland is not responsible for providing first aid to non-University tenants in University-owned buildings, NFAOs should be prepared to render first aid if called upon to attend an emergency in a tenanted area.