First aid at work – Your legal requirements

First Aid for Life’s Emma Hammett discusses the legal requirements surrounding first aid provision in the workplace

All employers, whether a sole trader or huge public-sector business, have a legal duty to make arrangements, to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. This legislation is laid out in Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 – updated 2015.

It doesn’t matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do, what is important is that they receive immediate attention and that an ambulance is called in serious cases. However, please remember that the ambulance will not arrive instantaneously and it is vital to know how to give immediate and appropriate first aid and stabilise the casualty whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

First aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones. First-aid provision in the workplace covers the arrangements that need to be made to manage injuries or illness suffered at work.

The Health & Sector Executive (HSE) compile annual statistics for accidents (2016/17) and they make frightening reading, highlighting the vital importance of first aid in the workplace. They show that: 137 workers were killed at work last year; 609,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey; 70,116 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR; and 31.2 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury.

Duty of employer to make provision for first-aid
Every employer has a duty of care to provide, or ensure that there are provided adequate and appropriate facilities and equipment to cater for his employees if they are injured or become ill at work. An employer should make an assessment of first-aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks) of each workplace.

Where an employer provides first-aiders in the workplace, they should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first-aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. Typically, first-aiders will hold a valid certificate of competence in either first aid at work (FAW) or emergency first aid at work (EFAW).

First-aid provision for non-employees
These Regulations do not require employers to provide first aid for anyone other than their own employees. However, many organisations, such as schools, nurseries, libraries, hospitals, provide a service for others and it is strongly recommended that employers include non-employees in their assessment of first-aid needs and make provision for them. This may require first aiders to receive additional training above the legal minimum requirement so that they are able to act competently, for example additional training in paediatric first aid if operating in a school.

First Aid for Life specialises in First Aid at Work and tailoring the training to the needs of the work situation; including staff and clients / customers / pupils / contractors. First Aid for Life is also uniquely able to offer fully regulated blended learning, enabling staff to undertake online pre-learning and then a shorter amount of time on the practical course.

All employers, self-employed people and people in control of work premises have duties under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). They must report certain work-related injuries, cases of ill health and dangerous occurrences. HSE will pass details to the relevant enforcing authority. RIDDOR applies to all work activities but not all incidents are reportable. It is also advised that people have an accident report book in which they record all incidents, this must be stored in line with the Data Protection Act

First-aid materials, equipment and facilities
When the assessment of first-aid requirements has been completed, the employer should provide the materials, equipment and facilities needed to ensure that the level of cover identified as necessary will be available to employees at all relevant times. This will include ensuring that first-aid equipment, suitably marked and easily accessible, is available in all places where working conditions require it.

Additional training needs
When arranging FAW or EFAW or other equivalent training, employers should let the training organisation know of any particular hazards at their workplace so training can be tailored to meet those needs. HSE strongly recommends that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training during any three-year FAW/EFAW certification period. Employers should also encourage first-aiders to regularly review their course manual and any other instructional materials and allocate them time to do this. It will further help to maintain their first-aid skills.

First Aid for Life produce regular updates and have a variety of free materials and online courses to enable staff to easily and conveniently keep their knowledge up to date.

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