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General practice tool kit

Your practice premises

Safety and security

Last revised: 24 Oct 2019

Ensuring your practice is safe and secure

  • All employers must take OH&S and/or WHS legislation seriously, and be aware that there are severe penalties for failing to meet obligations.
  • Legislation differs between states and territories. To review the OH&S and WHS legislation of your state or territory regulator, click here.
  • Conduct a risk management analysis when setting up your practice to identify, assess and manage actual and potential risks. This includes infection risks, electrical risks, physical risks (eg tripping and lifting), equipment malfunction risks (eg of height-adjustable tables and unsuitable workstations).

All electrical equipment in your practice must be tagged and tested when it is first installed and then at regular intervals.

Test and tagging involves a visual inspection of an appliance for any damage followed by an electrical test with a Portable Appliance Tester. If the appliance is safe to use, the tester tags the appliance accordingly. If the appliance is not safe to use, the tester will tag it with it a High Visibility Failed Tag and it must be withdrawn from service immediately.

Test and tagging must be carried out by someone who has successfully completed a Test & Tag course. This will normally be an electrician, but it does not have to be.

When deciding what security measures to implement in your practice, consider each possible security risk, and identify:

  • the likelihood of the event occurring
  • the severity of the impact of the event if it did occur
  • the financial cost of implementing appropriate security measures, as well as the impact on patients and the smooth operation of your practice. 

Creating a safe environment in your practice

Restricted access:

  • Use physical barriers to prevent patients accessing working areas.
  • Design your practice so that patients cannot readily access consulting rooms without passing reception.
  • Install security locks on all windows and access doorways.
  • Implement additional security measures for areas where medications are stored or being distributed (eg locks on storage cupboards).

Comfort and a sense of safety:

  • Keep your patient waiting area comfortable, spacious and well lit.
  • Use strong lighting in corridors, car parks, walkways, and external surrounds of the building.
  • Use CCTV where appropriate, and prominently display signs notifying people that CCTV is in use.
  • Prominently display signs in your waiting room and consulting room stating that limited amounts of cash and drugs are kept on site.

Staff safety:

  • Install duress alarms in consulting rooms and in reception.
  • Where possible, have two exit doors in each consulting room.
  • Develop a clearly worded policy about verbal and physical assault (which is unfortunately a recognised threat in medical practices), and display it prominently in your practice and on your website. Provide training for your staff so they know how to reduce the likelihood of assault, and how to respond if they or someone else at the practice is assaulted.

During an emergency, such as a health pandemic or natural disaster, the demand for healthcare services generally increases. It’s therefore important that:

  • your practice has an emergency response plan for keeping the practice’s staff, patients, infrastructure, equipment and data as safe as possible (this is a requirement for practice accreditation
  • your practice has a contingency plan if the practice must close
  • in the case of an emergency, you and your staff know how to implement both plans, while continuing to provide services, if possible.

RACGP Standards

Criterion C 3.3 A - Emergency response plan

C3.3 A Our practice has an emergency response plan for unexpected events, such as natural disasters, pandemic diseases, or unplanned absences of clinical team members.

View the standards >

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