8th September, 2021
Every business should have suitable levels of first aid cover. In an emergency medical situation, the delivery of first aid could quite literally be the difference between life and death. If an accident happened in your workplace, who would know what to do and how to help?
First aid training could save a life. In the most serious of cases, knowing what to do in a medical emergency could keep someone alive until an ambulance arrives. But in business, first aid isn't just a nice to have. It's a legal requirement.
Every business should have suitable levels of first aid cover. You need enough first aiders to deal with a medical emergency if and when one happens. How likely that is will depend on your workplace. But, as we all know, accidents and illness can happen at any time. Not just in big businesses, but in small ones too. And your workplace does not have to be a high risk for an accident to occur.
It only takes one person to fall ill to need medical attention. If someone did, what would you do? Would you know what to do? In an emergency medical situation, the delivery of first aid could quite literally be the difference between life and death. In the most serious of cases, you could be relying on a first aider to keep you alive until an ambulance arrives. And if there was no first aider, the consequences could be fatal.
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. This responsibility includes ensuring that employees can receive immediate attention if they are injured or become ill at work.
There's a specific set of regulations that make this a legal requirement. They are called the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations. And here's what the regulations say about providing first aid training.
an employer shall provide, or ensure that there is provided, such number of suitable persons as is adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for rendering first-aid to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work; and for this purpose a person shall not be suitable unless he has undergone—
- such training and has such qualification as the Health and Safety Executive may approve for the time being in respect of that case or class of case, and
- such additional training, if any, as may be appropriate in the circumstances of that case.
-- The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 - Duty of employer to make provision for first-aid
The law requires employers to provide a suitable number of trained and qualified first aiders. But what is this training needed? Surely if an accident happened in your workplace, people would help anyway, right? Of course, people will try to help, but they may not know what to do or take the wrong course of action.
Without first aid training, staff may panic. The actions of those attempting to help could make the situation worse. For example, applying a cream or ointment to a burn could cause more harm than good. Removing an embedded object could trigger a severe bleed.
With first aid training, nominated first aiders in your workplace can take appropriate action to help any person injured or suffering from illness. They will know what to do in a variety of medical emergencies. No guesswork. Just quick, decisive action.
A first aider is someone trained to deal with medical emergencies. They have completed a course by a competent first aid training provider in first aid at work or emergency first aid at work and has the appropriate level of first aid training to provide first aid. With first aid training, they have the knowledge and skills to give the first response in an emergency, while you are waiting for medical professionals to arrive.
Importantly, having first aid skills and knowledge will reduce panic and confusion in a demanding medical situation. First aid training gives the nominated first aiders within your business the competency to deliver a calm and safe first response at the scene. They can take charge, provide reassurance, and assist people until (where necessary) medical help arrives.
To become a qualified first aider, you would need to take a classroom-based course. This type of training provides a safe environment to practice life-saving first aid skills and understand how to manage an emergency. You can try out putting someone in the recovery position. Give a dummy CPR. Apply a bandage. Treat for shock.
A qualified first aider needs these practical elements because first aid is a hands-on skill. A qualified first aider is more than an appointed person or someone with first aid awareness. In addition to first aid knowledge, they also have the hands-on skills to deliver treatment.
There are two types of first aid courses, and therefore two types of first aider:
Find out more about the differences between these two types of first aider in A Guide To The Different Types Of First Aid Training Courses.
It is easy to see why every workplace needs first aid arrangements in place. Even in small low-risk work environments, there should be people appointed who know what to do in the event of an emergency. The level of first aid training you require will depend on your business, and your first aid needs assessment should take account of:
Of course, not everyone in your workplace needs to be first aid trained. The number of first aiders you will need will depend on the number of people you need to cover and the type of work you do. Start with a first aid needs assessment to decide if you have enough cover and record your findings.
In very low-risk environments with only a small number of people, your first aid needs assessment might find that a qualified first aider is not necessary. In this case, you might choose to have an appointed person take charge of first aid equipment and contacting the emergency services.
For more information see How Many First Aiders Do I Need? Low Vs High Risk Work.
Does your business need first aid training? Chances are, the answer is yes. First aid training will help you comply with the law and create a safe environment within your workplace.
First aid training is usually carried out every three years for qualified first aiders. These are classroom-based practical training courses. In-person first aid training can be found from a variety of providers throughout the UK.
This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.
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