First aid training and first aid courses for the workplace (2021)

Posted by Pia Abrahams on

Workplace first aid training is a legal requirement in Australian workplaces

Workplace first aid training and first aid training courses ensure regulatory compliance for Australian businesses and workers.

Because requirements differ between workplaces in Australia, training courses are best determined after a complete risk assessment and review.

In Australia, Work Health and Safety requirements differ between industries, sectors and locations. A complete appraisal and review of your workplace will determine the best training and courses suited to the location, type of work and the composition of the workers there. You should always be prepared for an emergency accident or illness.

Many courses for various levels of skill are now available in-person and online, ranging from simulated-incident experiences to basic online first aid courses, which can be completed in hours rather than days. 

Workers will know how to properly use a workplace first aid equipment and supplies after workplace first aid training

Workplace first aid training


Risk assessment

Equipment and personnel

Duty to provide training

Types of training

Number of first aiders

Frequency of training first aiders

5-step guide to selecting first aiders

Workplace first aid training frequently asked questions

Workplace first aid training providers

Additional advice



Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws in Australia impose health and safety frameworks for business-owners and their appointed first aiders. You can find details of their duties and responsibilities in the Model Code of Practice: First Aid in the Workplace.

The Code also has practical information to help you establish your first aid requirements, equipment, facilities and training needs.

Risk assessment

First aid requirements vary between places of work. You must consider all relevant risks and hazards when determining what first aid arrangements you’re required to have in place. These include:

  • type of work being carried out
  • associated hazards
  • size and location of work such as distance between areas and response times for emergency services
  • number and composition of people including workers, contractors, subcontractors, volunteers and visitors

A complete risk assessment that considers all of these factors will help you determine which workplace first aid arrangements you’re required to provide.

Regularly review your assessment in consultation with your workers to ensure your first aid arrangements remain adequate and effective. 

Advantages of workplace first aid training include reducing repeat accidents

Equipment and personnel

Under Australian laws, a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is the legal entity responsible for running a business, including all types of working structures and arrangements.

A PCBU can be an incorporated company, unincorporated body or association, a sole trader or a self-employed family group. People in a partnership conducting a business will individually and collectively be a PCBU.

As a PCBU you have the primary duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of workers while they’re in your business or undertaking.

You must give your workers access to:

  • First aid kits
  • First aid equipment
  • First aid facilities
  • Trained first aiders

Duty to provide training

As a PCBU you must ensure an adequate number of workers are appointed and trained to administer first aid at your enterprise.

If they move around during their shift you need to ensure they’re easy to locate and identify.

On a construction site they should be identified by a high visibility vest in a special colour and a contact number for first aid displayed in prominent locations.

Types of training

Trained first aiders should hold a nationally recognised statement of attainment from a registered training organisation (RTO).

Your enterprise may require more specific or advanced training, depending on the nature of the jobs being performed or the workplace. An accredited first aid course provides your staff with the information and skills necessary to respond to an emergency, whether that emergency is providing standardised care to a staff member suffering an asthma attack, or pre-medical first aid for a major injury.

High risks at the workplace may require a higher level or additional training to ensure your workplace first aiders are appropriately skilled.

Extra training may be required where:

  • work is remote or isolated
  • risks are present from dangerous substances such as cyanide or arsenic
  • specialist equipment or room is installed
  • workers have existing medical conditions that may require first aid
  • psychological risks have been identified
  • children are present 

Benefits of workplace first aid training include saving lives

Number of first aiders

The number in your workplace is determined by the nature of the tasks being performed and the level of hazard.

Generally there should be one first aid trained employee for every:

  • 50 workers in a low-hazard workplaces such as an office
  • 25 workers in a high-hazard workplaces such as a construction site
  • 10 workers in a remote high-hazard workplaces such as a mine

Frequency of workplace first aider training

Workplace first aiders should attend training on a regular basis to refresh their first aid knowledge and skills and to confirm their competence to provide first aid for your workers.

Refresher training in CPR should be carried out annually while first aid qualifications should be renewed every three years.

Workplace first aid training helps workers learn to be more conscious of safety in the workplace

5-step guide to selecting first aiders

Safe Work Australia provides a 5-step guide to working out the correct number necessary.

1. Number of workers

Identify the maximum number of workers at one time.

2. Nature of work

Consider the nature of the jobs being carried out. Determine if your workers are at high risk of illness or injury requiring immediate treatment.

3. Remote workplaces

Determine if the work is remote or if access to emergency services is difficult. High-risk workplaces without timely access to medical and ambulance services should have at least one first aid-trained employee for every 10 workers.

4. Variety of work

Consider the variety of ways your workers carry out their tasks. A worker may:

  • spend most of their time working alone or in transit such as taxi drivers, sales representatives, collectors and inspectors
  • work in a variety of locations on a regular basis and often without supervision such as tradespeople, construction workers, farmhands and cleaners
  • work alone for relatively short periods of time such as when opening or closing a business for trade or working back late to meet a deadline

5. Other factors

Consider these factors:

  • arrangements such as shift work or overtime
  • seasonal jobs with sudden and significant increases or decreases in numbers of workers
  • workplaces with large numbers of people present on a regular basis such as schools, shopping centres, hotels and function centres
  • workplaces with unique hazards such as fitness centres, amusement rides and dive schools
  • access during times when a first aider is absent such as annual leave 

Online workplace first aid training courses lack the hands-on learning that in-situ courses offer

Workplace first aid training frequently asked questions

Obligations and duties vary between states and territories. Always consult your state or territory Work Health and Safety authority to understand how the model WHS laws apply to you.

1. What is workplace first aid training?

Workplace first aid training prepares an appointed employee to provide first aid when a worker is injured or ill until medical treatment is available. For minor incidents, first aid care may be enough. For severe incidents, providing first aid can mean the difference between life and death. In some locations it may take hours for an ambulance to arrive. An accredited first aid course can provide staff with the right first aid skills in the workplace. Proper skills and knowledge gained in first aid courses can save lives.

2. How many first aiders are required for a workplace?

The number of qualified first aiders depends on the workplace and the nature of the work being performed. Low-hazard workplaces generally require one for every 50 workers. High-hazard workplaces require one for every 25 workers. Remote workplaces require one first aider for every 10 workers.

3. What is the legal requirement for workplace first aiders?

Australia’s model WHS laws impose health and safety duties. Businesses must ensure there are adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities, and qualified first aiders where required.

4. What qualifications do you need to be a first aider?

A nationally recognised statement of first aid training attained from a registered Australian training provider with approved in-person or online courses. Some workplaces may require more specific or advanced training depending on the nature of the tasks or workplace. Qualifications should be renewed every three years with refresher training in CPR undertaken annually.

5. Do employers have to pay for workplace first aid training?

Employers must pay for necessary workplace first aid courses. Any training must be taken through a Recognised Training Organisation (RTO) which issues nationally recognised qualifications and statements of attainment.

6. What accidents and emergencies can happen at work?

Different workplaces have different risk profiles. Different work practices have different risk profiles. Different times of the year have different risk profiles. Trained workplace first aiders have the skills to respond to emergencies and injuries, whether it’s a laceration, sprain, asthma attack, anaphylaxis event, or worse.

7. What is a Level 2 First Aid?

Level 2 First Aid is now known as HLTAID003. It is a nationally accredited qualification course, which improves workplace health and safety, promotes duty of care, and limits risk. Course graduates learn how to respond to first aid emergencies with confidence, skills and knowledge. They learn to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), basic life support, and other emergency procedures.

8. What workplace first aid training courses are available? 

Courses range from CPR and introductory first aid skills to HLT41115 Certificate IV in Health Care (Cert IV) designed for professionals who provide emergency first response and life support services within the mining, industrial or corporate sectors.

St John are not the only workplace first aid course providers - seek the registered first aid training organisation that best suits your workplace

Workplace first aid training providers

Alsco Training

Allens Training

Australia Wide First Aid

Australian Red Cross

Australian Training Institute

Colmed Group

Combined Safety Solutions

Cynergex Group


Emergency First Aid

Emergency Medical Response

Fire & Safety Australia

Growth Training Group



InterCare Training


National First Aid

Paramedical Services

Phillips Institute

Pinnacle Safety & Training

Real Response

Royal Life Saving Australia

Safety First

Safety Wave

St James

St John


A suitable workplace first aid kit is a critical component of any workplace training course

Additional advice

Australia’s model WHS laws are designed to make your workplace healthier and safer.

Contact your state or territory Work Health and Safety authority to see how the model WHS laws apply to you and your workplace.

First aid training for the workplace should not be regarded as burdensome red tape for management. Being able to provide first aid quickly and effectively for any emergency makes your work a safer place.


‘First aid overview,’ Safe Work Australia

‘First aid qualifications and training,’ Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority

‘Compliance code: First aid in the workplace,’ WorkSafe Victoria

‘First aid in the workplace,’ SafeWork NSW