The first aid appointed person isn't a first aider. But they can still have an important role to play when it comes to your first aid cover at work. First, you need to understand what an appointed person is, and their responsibilities.
Employers have responsibilities when it comes to the health and safety of their team. Every business needs to make sure they have first aid arrangements in place. These include:
So when can you use an appointed person instead of a first aider? Or as well as a first aider? Well, an appointed person is the minimum requirement. In low-risk work an appointed person can cover up to 25 employees. In high-risk work, only 5. But, it's not an exact science. It often depends on the type of work you do, and the number of employees you have.
For more information check out the blog post How Many First Aiders Do I Need? Low Vs High Risk Work.
Before you decide if an appointed person is right for your business, let's look at what they can do. And what they can't.
The role of the first aid appointed person is to take charge of first aid arrangements.
When an employer's first-aid needs assessment indicates that a first-aider is unnecessary, the minimum requirement is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements.
Ok, so we said the first aid appointed person isn't a first aider. So how can they take charge of first aid? Well, they might not be able to give first aid (you need a trained first aider for that), but they can take charge of first aid arrangements. To fulfil their role, appointed persons don't need first aid training, and they are not responsible for providing first aid.
But, if they're not responsible for providing first aid, what are they responsible for?
An appointed person can look after first aid equipment. They will know where the first aid kit is, should it be required. They might be responsible for regularly checking the first aid kit is stocked up, and any used or out of date items replaced.
If a first aider isn't present, the appointed person will take charge when someone is injured or ill at work. This might be the case in a low-risk environment with few workers, where a trained first aider isn't required. Or, it might be that the appointed person is providing emergency cover.
They can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count).
This doesn't mean providing first aid. If an appointed person isn't trained in first aid, they can't be expected to make medical assessments or administer first aid. But they can call for help, fetch first aid equipment and reassure someone that help is on its way.
You don't need to be a trained first aider to call the emergency services. And, because they are not trained first aiders, it's especially important that appointed persons can identify when they may need to call 999 or get medical help for someone.
Why would you need an appointed person to do this? Surely anyone can call an ambulance? Yes, they can. But in many situations, people assume someone else has made the call. And this confusion can delay alerting the emergency services, and slow down help arriving.
After an accident, or in a medical crisis, quick action can mean the difference between life and death.
When an appointed person is working alongside a trained first aider, they may be responsible for contacting the emergency services. This makes sure that 999 calls happen quickly, without taking the first aider away from someone needing their attention. For example, the first aider can be delivering CPR, while the appointed person calls for help.
An appointed person can help maintain injury and illness records as required. This might include your internal accident report forms, as well as making sure the accident book is filled in. They might also alert an employer to any RIDDOR reportable incidents that have happened.
If your first aid needs assessment shows that you need trained first aiders, then you should make sure you have enough first aiders to cover your workforce. This includes consideration for shift work, annual leave and the number and spread of your workers.
Appointed persons can provide cover when a first aider is unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances. But, again, they are not trained first aiders. They can't give first aid to a casualty. But they can take charge of first aid arrangements and contacting the emergency services.
In an emergency, you might need medical help. Who can you turn to? An appointed person can make a huge difference, knowing what to do and acting quickly.
Get up to speed in the first aid appointed person training course.