Who is responsible for supplying first aid and emergency equipment?

Q&A

Who is responsible for supplying first aid and emergency equipment?

A reader asks: who is responsible for supplying and maintaining first aid and emergency equipment — the landlord or the tenant?

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Who is responsible for supplying and maintaining first aid and emergency equipment — the landlord or the tenant?

This question was sent to our Ask an Expert Service.

Q. If the owner of a building has supplied a tenant with a first aid kit & fire fighting equipment (extinguisher), who is responsible for maintaining that equipment (ie buying supplies and paying for the checking of extinguishers)?

A. If you as the business owner (‘PCBU’ or ‘person conducting the business or undertaking’) have management and control of the first aid kit and the firefighting equipment, the expectation would be that you will be responsible for maintaining these things, even if they were initially supplied by the owner of the building in which you are a tenant. 

The PCBU has a duty to provide first aid for the business, and the first aid supplies must be adequate and suitable, considering the nature of the work and its hazards, the size and location of the workplace and the number and composition of the workforce. The first aid supplies will not be adequate if some things have been used but not replaced.

The building owner may arguably have some responsibility for the adequacy and maintenance of the firefighting equipment he or she provided for the building, but under WHS laws, more than one person can concurrently have the same duty. If that’s the case, then each duty holder must comply with the duty even if another duty holder has the same duty. 

As the PCBU, you must carry out your duty to the extent that you have the capacity to influence and control the matter – in this case, the firefighting equipment and the first aid kit. As the PCBU, you are likely to have more capacity to influence and control the first aid supplies and the firefighting equipment, as you will be in a better position to know if and when the first aid supplies need replenishing, and whether the fire extinguisher has been used.

WHS laws also require consultation, cooperation and coordination between duty holders who both have duties in relation to the same matters. This means you should talk with the building owner and come to an agreement as to who will be responsible for maintaining the first aid kit and the firefighting equipment, including who will buy supplies and pay for checking of the fire extinguishers, whether the cost of the latter will be shared, etc.

But if the building owner declines to accept responsibility for maintaining these things, this does not absolve you of your own responsibilities under the WHS laws.

This answer has been written based on the duties under WHS legislation. For a more definitive and authoritative answer for all jurisdictions, the WHS regulator in the relevant state or territory should be consulted.

Ask an Expert


Do you have a question about HR management or employment law? The ‘Ask An Expert’ service assists subscribers with employment issues in their own businesses. Get in touch with our experts via our contact form. 

'Ask an Expert' is not a legal advice column and should not be relied upon in place of specific legal advice. 

 
Post details