CPR First Aid

Safe Work Practices

Safe Work Practices

Risks and Hazardsbiological hazard

The following information in this section in green text is an excerpt from Safe Work Australia – How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks: Code of Practice – Dec 2011 Vs1

A step-by-step process

A safe and healthy workplace does not happen by chance or guesswork. You have to apply safe work procedures and think about what could go wrong at your workplace and what the consequences could be. Then you must do whatever you can (in other words, whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’) to eliminate or minimize health and safety risks arising from your business or undertaking.

This process is known as risk management and involves the four steps set out in this Code: identify safety issues – find out what could cause harm

  • assess risks if necessary – integrate ergonomics, 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
  • control risks – implement the most effective control measure and safety management that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances
  • review control measures to ensure they are working as planned.

The Risk Management Processrisk management process

Many hazards and their associated risks are well-known and have well-established and accepted control measures. Some of these include preventing exposure to silica and proper removal of asbestos. In these situations, the second step to formally assess the risk is unnecessary. If, after hazard identification, you already know the risk and how to control it effectively, you may simply implement the controls.

Risk assessment is a proactive process that helps you respond to change and facilitate continuous improvement in your business. It should be planned, systematic and cover all reasonably foreseeable hazards and associated risks

Meaning of Key Termsfallen mobile crane

Hazard means a situation or thing that has the potential to harm a person. Hazards at work may include noisy machinery, a moving forklift, chemicals, electricity, working at heights, a repetitive job, bullying and violence at the workplace.

Risk is the possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard.

Risk control means taking action to eliminate occupational health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable, and if that is not possible, minimising the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. Eliminating a hazard will also eliminate any risks associated with that hazard.

Image: Fallen Mobile Crane – Manchester, England – March 2009 by Phillip Roberts

Severity of the Consequences

For each hazard, estimate the severity or consequence if something can or does transpire.

  • Catastrophic – Cause death and/or major irreversible disability, and/or ill health
  • Serious – Severe injury or long-term illness
  • Moderate – Injury or illness requiring medical treatment and days off work
  • Minor – Minor injury requiring first aid treatment
  • Negligible – No injury or health effect. Treatment is not required

You can rate the likelihood of harm occurring as one of the following:

  • Certain to occur – Expected to occur in most circumstances
  • Very likely – Will probably occur in most circumstances
  • Possible – Might occur occasionally
  • Unlikely – Could happen at some time
  • Rare – May happen only in exceptional circumstances

The level of risk will increase as the likelihood of harm and its severity increases. Refer to the following table.

risk rating matrix

How to Control Risks?how to control risk

The most important step in managing risks involves eliminating them so far as is reasonably practicable, or if that is not possible, minimising the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

The ways of controlling risks are ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest as shown in the image (The hierarchy of risk control). This ranking is known as the hierarchy of risk control. The WHS Regulations require duty holders to work through this hierarchy when managing risk under the WHS Regulations

You must always aim to eliminate a hazard, which is the most effective control. If this is not reasonably practicable, you must minimise the risk

by working through the other alternatives in the hierarchy.

Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances

The following information in this section in green text is an excerpt from: Safe Work Australia Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace: Code of Practice – July 2012

chemical labelingThe “Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals” (GHS) applies to all chemicals, hazard classes, and categories under the GHS, however, it also applies to workplace hazardous substances and dangerous goods classified under the NOHSC Approved Criteria and the ADG Code, respectively. Most substances and mixtures that are dangerous goods under the ADG Code are also hazardous chemicals.

Any person conducting a business undertaking has a responsibility under WHS laws to manage the risks from all hazardous chemicals, including those that are dangerous goods.

Image: Chemical labelling by Pishrol12

Dangerous Goods / Chemicals / Safety Data Sheets

When managing the risks, regard must be had to the following factors:

  • flammable gasThe hazardous properties of the hazardous chemical
  • Any potentially hazardous reaction (chemical or physical) between the hazardous chemical and another substance or mixture, including a substance that may be generated by the reaction
  • The nature of the work to be carried out with the hazardous chemical
  • Any structure, plant, or system of work that:
    o Is used in the use, handling, generation, or storage of the hazardous chemical
    o Could interact with the hazardous chemical at the workplace

The first step in managing risks involves identifying all the chemicals that are used, handled, stored, or generated at your workplace in consultation with workers. The identity of chemicals in the workplace can usually be determined by looking at the label and the SDS, and reading what ingredients are in each chemical or product.

The following information in this section in green text is an excerpt from Safe Work Australia – Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals: Code of Practice – Feb 2016

What is a safety data sheet (SDS)?

safety data sheetA safety data sheet (SDS), previously called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), is a document that provides information on hazardous chemicals, how they affect health and safety, and how to manage them. For example, it includes information on the identity, health, and physicochemical, hazards, safe handling and storage, emergency procedures, and disposal considerations.

An SDS is an important tool for eliminating or minimising the risks associated with the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces. Image” SDS Storage by Gina Randall

The SDS should be kept in a location near the work area where the substance is used.

It’s closely relevant to a similar document called Safe Work Method Statement which outlines the proper execution of work tasks. Both forms are available on the websites of WorkSafe Australian territories.

An SDS for a hazardous chemical states the following information about the chemical:

Section 1 – Identification: Product identifier and chemical identity

Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification

Section 3 – Composition and information on ingredients

Section 4 – First-aid measures

Section 5 – Fire-fighting measures

Section 6 – Accidental release measures

Section 7 – Handling and storage, including how the chemical may be safely used

Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection

Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties

Section 10 – Stability and reactivity

Section 11 – Toxicological information

Section 12 – Ecological information

Section 13 – Disposal considerations

Section 14 – Transport information

Section 15 – Regulatory information

Section 16 – Any other relevant information

SDS – First Aid Measures

The SDS provides information about the initial care that does not involve the use of sophisticated equipment or access to a wide selection of medications to be given to a person affected by a hazardous chemical. It should state whether medical attention is required for a chemical, including the urgency of treatment required. Information included may cover:

  • SAFE WORK PRACTICES IMAGES8Immediate medical attention is required
  • Known antidotes should be available for administration by persons trained in their use (and, where relevant, authorised by law) as part of the recommended first aid procedure
  • Delayed effects can be expected after exposure
  • Movement of the exposed individual to fresh air is recommended
  • Removal of clothing and shoes from the individual is recommended
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for first aiders is recommended
  • There is a risk that first aiders may be exposed to risks from individuals who have ingested hazardous chemicals (for example, organophosphates).

Medication Schedules

In Australia, all medicines and poisons are classified into Schedules deeming the level of access and control over each item. This system determines at what levels medications are accessible and available to the Australian public.

There are nine scheduled levels but the five listed below are the ones that may be seen at the workplace.

medication schedules

Medication – Legal Requirements

Medication Schedulesexample of pharmacy medicine

Unscheduled products that are listed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are classified as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. These are readily available in supermarkets, pharmacies, health food stores, etc. and anyone can walk in and purchase the products. This includes some pain relief medications.

Currently, pain relief medications such as paracetamol (500mg), ibuprofen (200mg) and aspirin (300mg) are available in small pack sizes OTC products, while larger pack sizes are classified as Schedule 2 /Pharmacy Medicine items.

Image: Example of Pharmacy Medicine – Large packet of paracetamol

Analgesics in First Aid Kits?

analgesicThe following information in the green text is an excerpt from Safe Work AustraliaFirst Aid in the Workplace: Code of Practice – Feb 2016 Vs3

Medication, including analgesics such as paracetamol and aspirin, should not be included in first aid kits because of their potential to cause adverse health effects in some people including asthmatics, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions. This is irrespective of packet size or schedule level.

The supply of these medications may also be controlled by drugs and poison laws. Workers requiring prescribed and over-the-counter medications should carry their medication for their personal use as necessary.

Examples of Medications that Should Not Go into a First Aid Kit

Audits have been made over several years by authorities and have found that some businesses/organisations have had the following items in a first aid kit. Generally, people should not have direct access to items that are Schedule 2 or above.


Commonly Used Approved OTC Medications Found in a First Aid Kit

A first aider can use and apply these products on a casualty after receiving consent as per the safe work practices (SWP). Remember to note that any usage should be in line with the provided guidelines and manufacturer’s disclaimer.


Administration of Medication

Generally, in a workplace situation, if a coworker has prescription medicine, you may assist them in taking their medication but should not administer it to them.

At times, schools, child care centres, etc. may be required to administer medication to a child. This can be possible if the following has been arranged (Basic specifications mentioned as the list is quite detailed. Refer to your State Government for further details):

  • asthma action planThe Child’s GP has determined that it is necessary
  • When there is no other alternative about the treatment of a specific health need
  • Have medical authorisation to administer any medication to students
  • The safe and correct receipt, storage, administration and disposal of medications
  • The student’s health plan or action plan is followed
  • Training of staff in how to administer medications for children with specialised health needs
  • Have procedures and policies in place for the management of administering medications. All staff to be aware.
  • Parents and school or centre to effectively work together

First aid Emergency Medication


  • Adrenaline auto-injectors (EpiPen) for anaphylaxis = Schedule 3 item
  • Asthma reliever (Puffer/inhaler e.g. Ventolin) for asthma = Schedule 3 item First aiders trained to use the above two types of medications even though being schedule 3 items, can administer the medications in a first aid response to a casualty.

Note: For all medications, including first aid items:asthma inhaler

  • Check that medication is in date and has not expired
  • That medication is stored correctly as specified by the product
  • To arrange for replacement medication once used or expired

Five Checks that Must be Made When Administering Medications

1- Right patient

Five Checks that Must be Made When Administering Medications

  • As the patient their first and last name
  • Does the medication order match the patient?

2- Right medication

  • Does the medication label match the order?
  • Be vigilant with lookalike and sound alike medications

3- Right dose

  • Does the strength and dosage match the order?
  • Is it half, whole, or multiple tablets?

4- Right time

  • Does the administration time match the order?
  • Before administering a PRN medication, ensure specified time interval has passed

5- Right route

  • Does the route match the order?
  • Can this be crushed or mixed with other substances?
  • Have any transdermal patches been removed?


What is the Safe Work Australia Act?

The Safe Work Australia Act is a pivotal piece of legislation in Australia that establishes the framework for promoting workplace health and safety across the country. It outlines the responsibilities of employers, employees, and various stakeholders to ensure safe working environments, reduce workplace hazards, and improve mental health. It also includes policies for workers’ compensation, which is insurance given to workers. It’s useful if they are unable to perform their competency due to illness or injury acquired at work.

What is the meaning of work practices?

Work practices refer to the specific methods, procedures, and routines that individuals or organizations follow in their day-to-day work activities. These practices are designed to ensure efficiency, safety, and adherence to established standards and protocols in various industries and workplaces.

What is an example of safe practice?

Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets, gloves, and safety goggles when working in a construction site minimizes the risk of injury. This practice helps safeguard workers from potential hazards and ensures a safer work environment.

What makes a safe workplace?

A safe workplace is one where hazards are minimized through thorough training, regular inspections, and a strong commitment to safety from both management and employees. It also fosters a culture of prioritizing everyone’s well-being and clear communication of safety policies.

What are the 4 C's of safety?

These refer to Communication, Compliance, Culture, and Continuous improvement. These principles emphasize the importance of effective communication, adherence to safety regulations, fostering a safety-oriented culture, and the ongoing pursuit of better safety practices in the workplace.



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