FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Answers for all the big questions.
How often does a fire extinguisher need to be serviced?
The monthly checks should be documented. Also, the fire extinguisher should be inspected and certified annually by a fire protection equipment company. A complete breakdown and internal inspection must be done every 6 years. Both the annual and 6 year inspections shall be done by a fire protection equipment company.
How often do you need to change your fire extinguisher?
Manufacturers say most extinguishers should work for 5 to 10 years, however Australian Standard 1851 states that an extinguisher should be replaced after 5 years from the manufacture date.
What other checks do I need to do on the extinguisher?
Luke from Guardian First Aid and Fire recommends checking the pressure gauge monthly. “If the needle is in the green area, it should be functional”.
How much does it cost to service a fire extinguisher?
$10.00 + GST per portable extinguisher for a standard service. If recharging, hydro testing or repairs are needed, these prices will be given based on the size and type of the unit.
Can you use an out of date fire extinguisher?
Simply put, you should not use an expired fire extinguisher. However, with proper care and maintenance, your fire extinguisher should be able to last 5 years before needing to be replaced.
Are fire extinguishers required by law?
Yes. The Australian Work Health and Safety Regulations and WA Occupational Health and Safety Regulations state that a business that employs fire extinguisher rule applies to the placement, use, maintenance, and testing of portable fire extinguishers provided for the use of employees. Employers are generally required to provide portable fire extinguishing equipment in the workplace for use in fighting incipient-stage fires.
What are the Australian Standards relating to Portable Fire Extinguishers?
There are 3 Australian Standards for each type of fire safety measure. One is the standard to which they are manufactured, another is the standard specifying where and how it is located and installed, and the third relates to how it should be maintained.
To comply, you have to satisfy all three. So for fire extinguishers, they have to be manufactured according to AS1841, selected, located and installed according to AS2444, and maintained according to AS1851.
How do you get rid of expired fire extinguishers?
Fire Extinguisher Disposal. Because they are full of pressurized chemicals, fire extinguishers can't simply be thrown in the trash - you need to take certain steps to make sure it is safe. If the fire extinguisher is not empty, either ask your fire protection service provider to safely dispose of it, or discharge the contents with care to the environment and then remove the top handle and all of its internal components before discarding at the tip or steel recycler.
Do fire extinguishers have to be mounted on the wall?
Installation: To prevent fire extinguishers from being moved or damaged, they should be mounted on a bracket or in wall cabinets with the carrying handle placed 1 to 1.2m above the floor.
How often should my first aid kit be checked?
Depending on the frequency of use it may need checking once per month and serviced every 6 months. As a minimum first aid kits should be serviced annually as items do perish and expire and to replace any used items. Talk to us at Guardian First Aid and Fire and we can help advice what frequency is most suitable for you. The service schedule can always be adjusted depending on requirement.
How many kits do I need?
This depends on the size of the workplace and size of the workforce and the type of injuries your workplace has. It also depends on whether you have work vehicles carrying employees to workplaces as these should also have first aid kits in the vehicles. If unsure a risk assessment is a good place to start to determine the degree of risk a work area or work task has. It is important to have a first aid kit available to workers at all times whilst on the job.
Should I complete a first aid risk assessment?
Yes. Every workplace is different. By completing a first aid risk assessment you should be able to identify some of the potential risks within your workplace and what you could do to minimise them including your first aid needs.
What should I consider when completing the risk assessment?
To help you decide what first aid equipment, facilities and training are needed you must consider how likely it is that an injury may occur and how serious it might be.
Look at any past injuries, illnesses and ‘near miss’ information either in your workplace or that may have been reported in similar industries or workplaces.
Ask others in similar industries what first aid equipment they typically supply and what scenarios they may have reported.
Carry out risk assessments regularly to assess any changes in the workplace.
Do I have to provide a first aid officer?
You must make sure an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid in your workplace, or that workers have access to an adequate number of trained first aiders.
First aid can be provided by a worker or non-worker as long as they have been trained and are easily accessible.
If first aid facilities provided by others nearby are available, for example in retail shopping centres, offices, libraries and galleries, it may not be necessary for a small business to provide their own first aid officer.
How should I identify or contact my first aid officer?
Clear signs at the first aid officer’s workstation.
Many workplaces provide a high visibility hat or item of clothing for the first aid officer if they are moving around the worksite. See AS/NZS 4602.1:2011—High visibility safety garments.
Use a mobile phone or two-way radio.
Signage around the workplace to make sure everyone knows who the first aid officers are, how to recognise them and how to call for help in an emergency.
How many first aid officers are required?
You need to work this out using a first aid risk assessment by taking into account the number of people who may be at your workplace at any one time, including workers, contractors, subcontractors, volunteers and visitors, as well as the type of work that takes place and any associated risks.
Low risk workplaces may only need one first aid officer for every 50 workers, where high risk ones may need one first aid officer for every 25 workers.
What qualifications do first aid officers need?
At a minimum, first aid officers should hold a current first aid certificate (Provide First Aid) and the skills and knowledge to treat someone immediately until, if necessary, further help arrives.
Some workplaces may require more specific or advanced first aid training depending on the workplace and what risk factors workers may be exposed to.
Who pays for the training?
If a worker is required to undergo training as part of their employment it is expected that this cost would be would met by the workplace.
First aiders should attend training on a regular basis so their knowledge and skills are kept up-to-date.
What should be in a first aid kit?
The contents of first aid kits need to be appropriate for your workplace and this will depend on:
size, layout and where the workplace is located
number of workers
types of hazards
how likely it is someone might get hurt
the type and seriousness of injuries
known occurrence of incidents or illnesses.
The first aid kit needs to be immediately identifiable, fit all the contents easily and be easily accessible and unlocked.
It should be made of a material that will protect the contents from dust, moisture and contamination.
A person in the workplace (usually the first aid officer) should be nominated to maintain the first aid kit and make sure any items are replaced as soon as possible after use, and that items remain within their use by date.
Should medications be included in a first aid kit?
Dispensing medication could harm a patient if used inappropriately or is not one they commonly use. Medications could interact with others the injured person is already taking. This could happen even with common medications like paracetamol or aspirin.
It is important to remember that a first aider is not a medical provider and should not be required to make decisions about medications to be administered in any emergency. First aid is about the immediate treatment or care given to a person suffering from an injury or illness until more advanced care is provided or until the person makes a full recovery.
However in some circumstances, for example if work is done in remote locations where medical attention is not readily available and after completing the first aid risk assessment, you might want to include some limited medications in the first aid kit.
Is a first aid room required?
A first aid room is not needed in all workplaces. For example if a small business is located within a larger building or complex where there is easy access to a first aid room, it may be possible for them to access these services rather than supply their own. If they couldn’t access them, however, then they’d need to make sure suitable facilities were supplied for their workers.
What does the first aid room need to have?
The Code outlines the basic requirements if a first aid room is required in a workplace. A first aid room should:
Be big enough to provide any appropriate immediate medical treatment.
Be well-lit and ventilated.
Be easily accessible to those who are injured or who may need to be supported by a stretcher or wheelchair.
Have easy access to toilets and running water.
Not be used for any other purpose.
Remain under the control of the first aid officer who has been trained and holds the appropriate skills and knowledge.
What needs to happen with incident reports?
A record of any first aid treatment given should be kept by the first aid officer and a copy provided to management for review of any first aid arrangements.
Records of notifiable incidents must be kept for at least five years from the date of the notification. Further information on incident notification may be found on incident notification reporting page or from your local regulator.
Some workplace incidents must be notified to the WHS Regulator immediately after becoming aware of the incident. If you are unsure of whether the incident should be reported, contact your local regulator and they will be able to help you further.