Band aid your business: first aid basics

work accident

First Aid at work is the emergency treatment of employees (or anyone else) to preserve life, prevent deterioration and promote recovery in the event of injury or illness, until a medical practitioner can assist. Additionally, the treatment of minor injuries which would otherwise receive no treatment, or which do not require treatment by a medical practitioner or nurse would be an aspect of this provision.

HSE’s legislation guide to first aid states: “In the event of injury or sudden illness, failure to provide first aid could result in a casualty’s death. The employer should ensure that an employee who is injured or taken ill at work receives immediate attention.”

The presence of suitably qualified personnel with first aid skills and the provision of first aid materials and information for those staff is a requirement. Through the completion of a first aid needs risk assessment, the specific necessities of your organisation will be identified. This should consider the needs in all locations where staff work or travel. Additionally, this activity will identify the requirement for such extra justified provisions as a first aid room for example.

Part of this process will be the identification of suitable numbers of trained first aiders and their qualifications remaining valid. Where first aiders are deemed as not required, there should be an appointed person designated to take charge of any relevant situation. Co-ordination and management of first aid arrangements, provisions and information may fall to such an individual in the role of appointed person or be a designated role in the event of there being first aiders present additionally. This should include procedures for the provision and maintenance of first aid equipment or materials to ensure their replenishment and sterile supplies remain in date.

In the event there are arrangements for the delivery of first aid for non-employees, it should be ensured that this is covered by public liability insurance. It is also advisable that where employees work on sites not controlled by the employer, means of effective first aid co-ordination and co-operation with site managers are confirmed and communicated to all relevant parties. More generally, information on first aid provisions and materials should be provided for staff, such as where to request assistance, who the qualified first aiders are, where the kit is, etc.

Matters to consider when completing the first aid needs risk assessment include the type of work being done, the size, nature and distribution of workforce and workplaces and if workers are remote, working alone or travelling. Also the amount of first aiders and appointed persons where present, the level of training required for first aiders (3 day First Aid at Work or Emergency First Aid) and if appointed persons alone are sufficient, should be addressed as well as arrangements for substitute first aiders in the event of absence of the primary staff. The assessment should consider where there is shared occupancy and none employer controlled locations too.

The penalties for not meeting FAW regulation breaches of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 are proportionate to the breach of this duty. Enforcement action could include issuing notices or prosecuting if the circumstances warrant it. This is an area all employers need to address and make provision for.

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