The old adage, ‘accidents happen’ is true. No matter what we try to do to prevent them, accidents are a part of life. In the workplace, everyone plays a role in reducing accidents and incidents but it’s the duty of the employer to implement preventative measures. Having workplace first aid procedures in place is one of these measures.
First aid in the workplace ensures that those who suffer an injury receive immediate care. In medical emergency situations, it can also be lifesaving.
First Aid Skills Save Lives
When the Managing Director of a Jaguar car dealership in Cumbria decided to send 19 of his staff members for first aid training, he had no idea how vital it would turn out to be.
A member of the sales team had to use his newly-acquired first aid skills to help his seven-year-old son, six weeks after completion of the course. The child was choking on a boiled sweet and turning blue. His father was able to use techniques he had learned on the first aid course to clear the obstruction. Phew!
Let’s take a look at what workplace first aid means, the responsibilities of employers and employees, first aid requirements to consider and why training is key.
What Is Workplace First Aid?
Workplace first aid is the immediate care given to an injured person or to someone who has taken ill at work. Workplace first aid reduces the likelihood of the situation or injuries getting worse. Immediate first aid support keeps the affected person stable and comfortable until emergency services arrive to take over.
What Are the Employer Responsibilities?
Employers have a legal duty to make sure first aid arrangements are in place. This includes having a sufficient number of employees trained up to be first aiders. As all workplaces are different, the first aid needs vary. Employers must conduct a risk assessment to establish the correct first aid level required for their organisation; however, it can be a complex duty for an employer. In such situations, employers can benefit from learning through first aid risk assessment training.
A risk assessment will look at what risks employees and customers come into contact with when accessing your services. This, in turn, will help you work out how many first aiders you require, the type of first aid kits you need and how many.
Do Employees Have Any Responsibilities?
If ladders are rested against objects that could move or aren’t stable, such as guttering, it will increase the chance of falling too.
What About the Self-employed?
If you’re self-employed you have a responsibility for your own safety. This means taking care of yourself so that you’re not harmed. Depending on what work you do, this may be as simple as carrying a small, inexpensive first aid kit in your belongings.
If you work in a shared workspace or the service you deliver requires you to work from someone else’s premises, you may be able to use their first aid equipment. Best to check and get confirmation in writing though.
What’s the Legislation Around Workplace First Aid?
Here’s a brief summary of the legislation around workplace first aid.
Health & Safety at Work Act
The Health & Safety at Work Act states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees”. Having trained first aiders and adequate equipment in place goes a long way in helping to discharge this duty.
Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations
The Management of Health & Safety at Work regulations is really all about risk assessment. With workplace first aid in mind, this would be a risk assessment that focusses on incidents that may require immediate first aid, the controls you put in place and how you can potentially eliminate risks all together, to prevent harm from occurring.
RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations)
Employers and those who are self-employed must report specified injuries to the HSE under RIDDOR. RIDDOR covers all work place activities. Employees must also have a way of recording accidents if there are 10 or more employees. This may be in a physical accident book, sometimes kept in the first aid box or an online reporting portal.
Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations
This regulation puts requirements on employers to have ‘adequate and appropriate facilities, personnel and equipment’. This is so that emergency first aid can be given if someone sustains an injury at work or becomes ill.
What First Aid Provisions Do I Need?
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is central to your provision. Your first aid needs assessment will inform your decision on how many you need and what type. To help you decide what is needed in your first aid kit, see our blog First Aid Kits – What Should They Contain?
First Aid Facilities
Your first aid facility is where you provide immediate first aid. This could be a dedicated room such as a welfare room. Depending on your premises you may not have a room but an area instead. Regardless, wherever you make the dedicated space it must be kept clean, clear of clutter and ready to be used at all times. After all we never know when accidents will occur.
First Aid Personnel
As a minimum, you should have a first aid appointed person. It’s their role to act as the point of contact. If there’s a serious incident, the emergency services will need to contact them.
They don’t actually need to be first aid trained. Think of them as the person that coordinates the first aid provision. They are also responsible for keeping the first aid kit well maintained and ensuring the facilities are always ready for use.
Keep in mind that if they are not first aid trained, they cannot administer first aid.
Workplace first aiders are people who have completed a certified first aid course. Courses range from the 1-day Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) course which gives the basics on how to administer first aid, to the more in-depth 3-day First Aid at Work course which includes an in-person practical element.
Training is valid for three years but an annual refresher is recommended to make sure knowledge is kept fresh in mind.
First Aid Training Is A Win Win
While initial Basic First Aid at Work Training must be completed face-to-face, online training is recognised by the HSE as a useful resource for refreshing previously gained knowledge
First aid training provides trainees with lifesaving skills they can use both in the workplace and in their personal lives. This is often a key attraction when promoting first aid courses and looking for volunteers. Once trained you can use your new-found knowledge anywhere, anytime.
Many workplace trained first aiders have used their skills to help others, whether they were colleagues, loved ones or members of the public. We’ve created a RoSPA assured, first aid training course, that equips learners with all the basics on first aid. Its informative, raises awareness and as it’s an e-learning course, you can fit it into your schedule. It’s perfect for the self-employed too.