The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have given their approval for the use for e-learning for first aider annual refresher training during the coronavirus pandemic. They have stated:
“If first aiders are unable to access annual refresher training face to face during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HSE supports the use of online refresher training to keep their skills up to date.”
– The Health & Safety Executive
In this short article regarding online health and safety, we provide you with practical guidance on what this means and other first aid arrangements that you may need to take during the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus specific first aid training
As part of their required Coronavirus arrangements, all employers should ensure that first aiders have received the necessary training to feel confident in their ability to help someone that becomes injured or ill at work, whilst lowering the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
This includes taking into account on new guidance on how to give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), along with other minor adjustments to first aid provision, which we have outlined below.
First Aid Needs Assessment
Employers, whilst reviewing their risk assessment, to account of how coronavirus affects their operations, should also examine their first aid at work needs.
This includes discussing with first aiders what factors should be taken into account, as part of the risk assessment. This will account for considerations such as vulnerable workers with first aid duties.
Involving first aiders in this process will enable them to feel more confident in the assistance they provide; for example, they will know which equipment they can use whilst giving first aid to minimise the risk of transmitting Coronavirus.
Guidance For First Aiders During Coronavirus
The HSE advises first aiders should give assistance from a safe distance from the casualty wherever possible to minimise the amount of time sharing the same breathing space.
If the unwell person is capable, the first aider should verbally guide them through any steps they can manage on their own. But giving the unwell person proper care must remain the primary concern.
First aiders are advised to stick to the 3P’s:
- Preserve life,
- Prevent life worsening
- Promote recovery
The recommended steps for giving life preserving CPR include:
- Dial 999 immediately, letting emergency services know if the patient has displayed any Coronavirus symptoms
- Call for help. If a portable defibrillator is nearby, ask for it
- Before beginning CPR, minimise the risk of virus transmission by lightly placing a cloth or towel over the unwell person’s nose and mouth
- If it’s available, apply PPE:
- Disposable gloves
- Fluid-repellent mask
- Eye protection
- Begin delivering chest compressions – rescue breaths are no longer advised
- If a defibrillator is available, use it
First Aider Cover & Qualifications During Coronavirus
If employers find that their first aid cover is reduced due to the Covid-19 virus, or that they are unable to get necessary first aid training, there are some things they can still do to comply with the law. Some options include:
- Cover for Reduced Staff – If operating with a reduced number of staff members, it may still be safe to operate despite the reduced first aid cover.
- Consider limiting higher-risk activities which may require heightened first aid arrangements
- Sharing First Aid Cover – First aiders may be shared amongst multiple businesses. But it must be ensured that any first aiders that are used have the knowledge, experience and availability to cover the needs of each workplace they serve.