Within any workplace, there is a risk of people suffering injuries or becoming ill. Regardless of whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do, it is essential to give them adequate attention and call an ambulance if necessary. Administering emergency first aid before medical assistance arrives on-site can undoubtedly save lives. It can also reduce the likelihood of potentially life-altering health issues and the length of their recovery time.
Employers have a legal duty to ensure that they have adequate first aid facilities, equipment, and people to provide assistance if necessary. A first aids needs assessment should be completed to determine what first aid cover is required. This should consider factors such as the size of the organisation, the type of work that is being done, the environment, and the level of risk.
Employers must ensure they have provided adequate training to provide sufficient first aid within their organisation.
In the UK, around 610,000 workers sustain non-fatal injuries at work per year, as per figures from the Labour Force Survey. On average, employers lose 1.2 working days for each employee each year to non-fatal injuries, amounting to millions in lost costs.
Accidents at work can lead to an employee being off work for days, weeks, even months. The employer will have to pay sick leave, train existing employees to take on the injured worker’s job tasks, or find replacement staff. All of which are uninsured business costs.
Immediate first aid given to an injured employee could prevent them going off sick from work at all, enable them to come back to work sooner if time off was needed, and save companies money and time. Having an effective system in place is also a mark of a good health and safety management system, from an employer who cares about their workforce.
Employers must have in place adequate first aid equipment, suitable facilities such as a welfare room or an area where first aid can be provided, and employees who can give first aid.
Each workplace is different, which means that facilities and equipment may differ from company to company. A low-risk working environment such as an office will not require the same level of cover and equipment as a busy factory, for example. Carrying out a first aid assessment to understand the companies needs is a good way to establish what is required.
Although there is no legal duty for employers to have first aid provisions for non-employees such as members of the public, it is strongly advised to include them in the assessment of first aid if they enter the working environment.
First aid should be administered by an individual who has had the necessary training. Training provides the first aider with the knowledge of what to do in the event of an emergency, to preserve life. Without adequate training, the injured person can at times be at more harm, not to say that the person assisting them would mean to do so.
Many opt for practical courses, where delegates attend a training centre or a trainer delivers the course on-site. The global pandemic has made companies have to find ways to train their staff while out of the office and a way to do this is by including an online first aid course into their training suite.
Employees have a responsibility to take care of themselves and in doing so, take care of others. Where first aid equipment is provided it should be used appropriately and in accordance with the instruction given by their employer.
If employees notice that equipment is not enough, such as boxes low on supplies, they should inform their supervisor or manager so that they can be topped up.
First aid equipment such as first aid boxes, can be purchased from a variety of suppliers and need not be overly expensive. The amount of equipment will depend on the number of employees and anticipated non-employees that use the working environment. Equipment needs to be replenished, so it is a good idea to keep an inventory.
The number of first aiders will also depend on how many people use or visit the workplace. There may be times when there are no first aiders available, due to staff shortages, annual leave, and national holidays, work taking place during unsociable hours. A way to alleviate this matter is to provide basic workplace first aid training to all employees, regardless of their working schedules and positions.
Alternatively, adequate information – usually in the form of posters around the workplace, and having easy-to-find equipment is a way to provide low-level assurance that assistance can still be given, if necessary. Training is always a better bet though.
Due to the additional risk of contracting coronavirus when administering first aid, the government has provided additional guidance. The hierarchy of risk controls should be applied to the situation, evaluating the level of risk posed by the emergency versus the risk of contracting the virus.
For instance, if someone has sustained a minor injury, a first aider may be able to assist someone from a distance of two metres by having the person apply first aid to themselves. This will reduce the risk of the virus transferring.
The steps to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) have also been amended to avoid giving resuscitation breaths in some situations. It is recommended that first aiders read the latest guidance and undertake a course on administering first aid during coronavirus, such as is offered by Human Focus.
It can often be difficult to get employees to take time away from their daily duties to attend a full-day emergency first aid course. Much more difficult trying to take three days off in a row to do the three-day first aid qualification.
The option to complete a first aid online course lessens this issue. Employees can complete the training in their own time and as working from home is now the new normal, from the comfort of their own home.
It must be noted that successfully completing an online course does not mean that the delegate can become a qualified first aider. A practical course will need to be completed for a formal qualification to become one.
The HSE has stated that it supports use of online training to keep first aid skills up to date, due to the lack of access to face-to-face training caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Online first aid training courses provide delegates with the basics on first aid, enough to give them a general understanding of what they need to do in an emergency situation, even if it is just to put the injured person into the recovery position and call the emergency services. A practical first aid course must be completed for an employee to become a qualified first aider.
To become a qualified first aider at work you must first complete a three-day First Aid at Work course. Providers of such courses include St. John’s Ambulance and The Red Cross. The qualification lasts for three years but it is recommended that certificate holders complete refresher training on an annual basis.
There are a number of providers offering courses at a range of prices. It is best to check whether the course covers everything that you are looking for as well as the budget you have in mind. Remember you are looking for a quality course. The Human Focus first aid online courses are £25.
A basic CPR course can be completed online but it is always a good idea to complete this type of training in a practical setting, where an instructor can demonstrate the correct techniques to be used to preserve and ultimately save life. Practical courses will come with a recognised qualification.