Home - Should we comply with a ‘do not resuscitate request’?
April 03, 2019 on chapter Office safety

A worker has advised that she has heart problems and has requested that, in the event of cardiac arrest, we do not attempt to resuscitate her or use our automatic external defibrillator (AED). How should we manage this request?

A person conducting a business or undertaking has the primary duty under the WHS Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. Clause 42 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations (Cth) places specific obligations on a person conducting a business or undertaking in relation to first aid. These include requirements to:

    • provide first aid equipment and ensure each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment;
    • ensure access to facilities for the administration of first aid; and
    • ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace, or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid.

It is important to note that the WHS Act duty of care requires you to take proactive steps to prevent an employee from being exposed to risks to their health and safety that arise from the conduct of the organisation’s operations. It does not require you to take active steps to ensure that the wishes of the employee not to receive life-saving defibrillation in an emergency are complied with. It may be that such duty exists under the common law or in any agreement between you and the employee. You should obtain legal advice on your specific circumstances.

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