The right first-aid provision can save lives so employers must ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations to provide suitable training, equipment and facilities for their staff in line with the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations.
The regulations were first created in 1981 and outlined the need for all employers to have a first aid provision that is for purpose in their workplace, and they were subject to a revision on October 1st 2013 which removed the need for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to approve first aid qualifications and training.
This amendment gives businesses more flexibility to manage their own first aid training needs, and as a result of this change the British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits: BS8599-1 was also updated.
With medical interventions available and the needs of our workforces constantly changing, it’s important to understand how these changes affect employers, and what they need to be aware of when it comes to providing adequate first aid provisions.
What Do Employers Need To Know?
- The revised Health and Safety at Work Act places the obligation of picking a qualified training provider with employers of all sizes and from all sectors, but their choices must be up to the required standards set by HSE guidelines.
- The HSE recommends employers complete an assessment of their workplace needs to determine the type and number of first-aiders that may be necessary.
- Employers should also pay close attention to the level of risk associated with their workplace and take into account any potential hazards or risks.
- In addition, employers must be aware that the need for training may change over time and that they should review the effectiveness of their first-aid provision at least once a year.
Employer Responsibilities – First aid regulations
First aid regulations stipulate that employers still have a responsibility to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities, and personnel to make sure they can properly administer first aid whenever needed.
- Conducting an annual first-aid assessment of the workplace to assess the potential for injury/illness based on the type of activities carried out in the organisation
- Providing regular first-aid training to employees to ensure that skills and equipment are in place to deal with those situations if they occur.
- Providing first-aid facilities, equipment and personnel so that employers can take immediate medication action for anyone injured or taken ill in the workplace
Developments In First Aid To Be Aware Of
As first aid evolves and changes, so must the training, meaning employers need to make sure they are aware of any developments in training and equipment available to deliver effective first aid, such as:
- The introduction of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in some workplaces
- Advancement in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques
- Potential changes to the British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits: BS8599-1
- Keeping up with advances in first aid technology and techniques
- As well as providing physical first aid provision, employers should also look to provide mental health first aid. Mental health first aid is the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. It should be provided by an individual who has been trained and certified in Mental Health First Aid.
- The introduction of first aid training simulations, e-learning and other online resources.
By staying informed about new trends and practices in first aid, employers can ensure that their first-aid provision meets the needs of their staff and that they remain compliant with legislation.
Conducting First Aid Risk Assessments
Employers need to remember that there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to first aid provision. Every workplace and situation is different, so a tailored risk assessment should be carried out as part of the process of determining what level of first-aid provision is necessary.
Assessments of first-aid needs and delivery should be repeated regularly, and as work processes evolve and should cover non-employees in your workplace too, including; contractors, freelancers, visitors and members of the public.
For example, The Health and Safety Executive states that, at the very least, a small office determined to have insignificant health and safety risks should be equipped with appropriate first-aid kit as well as someone appointed to take charge of calling for an ambulance in any case.
A large workplace identified to contain riskier conditions is sure to benefit from having one or more certified first responders on hand, along with enhanced medical supplies or specialist equipment.
Selecting First Aid Training Providers
Employers who choose to provide their first-aiders in the workplace must ensure that they have done suitable training, attained an appropriate certification and remain competent for the role.
Most commonly, you can find workers with a valid certificate of competence in either First Aid At Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW). EFAW gives emergency help if someone becomes injured or ill while working, whereas FAW covers more specific requirements such as treating various injuries and illnesses.
To ensure the high standards expected for First Aid Training are met, The Health and Safety Executive has created guidance for employers searching to select a first-aid training provider; these guidelines can be accessed right here.
Supplying First Aid Equipment & Facilities
Employers should also be aware of their legal obligations to provide the necessary first-aid equipment and facilities – such as a first-aid box and/or room, safety signs and proper storage/ disposal procedures. Again, guidance on this is provided by The Health & Safety Executive.
Practical Steps Employers Can Take To Manage Their first aid responsibilities
- Have a dedicated H&S lead that is responsible for staying on top of changes in legislation, equipment and first aid techniques then passing them on to staff, as well as carrying out regular risk assessments.
- Identify a senior mental health lead. This role should include having strategic oversight of the whole organisation’s approach to mental health and wellbeing.
- Regularly review the first-aid policies, procedures and training needs of employees to ensure that they are meeting legislative requirements.
- Maintaining accurate records of any incident that requires the intervention of first aid personnel. This helps to spot trends and areas for improvement when reassessing first aid requirements.
- Ensure first-aid trained staff have adequate resources and facilities, such as a first-aid box or room, safety signs and proper storage/disposal measures in place.
- Provide regular training for first-aid staff in line with any changes to the British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits: BS8599-1.
- Be aware of and keep up to date with advances in first aid technology and techniques.
- Have a qualified, experienced person responsible for selecting a first-aid training provider that meets the required standards.
- To ensure that both employees and non-employees are protected, employers should verify they have a suitable insurance policy or risk protection agreement in place for the provision of first aid.
- Ensure that all staff are aware of the first-aid procedures, who the trained first aiders are, and where to find equipment if needed.
- Provide any necessary resources such as Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and access to emergency services, should the need arise.
What Happens If I don’t meet my employer responsibilities?
If you fail to meet your employer’s responsibility for providing first aid in the workplace, you are risking the safety and well-being of your staff.
If discovered through assessment, you can be issued with an improvement notice from the enforcing authority, and in practical terms, if members of staff fall ill or suffer an injury at work and you are found to be in breach of HSE first aid Regulations, you could also face damaging prosecution and extensive fines.
Overall, employers have a responsibility to keep their staff safe and ensure that they are trained to provide effective first aid in the event of an accident or illness. By conducting regular assessments, staying informed on new developments, selecting appropriate training providers and having the necessary equipment and facilities available, employers can make sure they fulfil these responsibilities.
As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration when it comes to managing and keeping up-to-date with your first aid responsibilities in the workplace. If you would like support with managing and understanding your HR and employer responsibilities towards your workforce when it comes to Health & Safety first aid provisions, please contact us.