It is important that staff at your workplace have first aid training. With the appropriate first aid training, they can handle some of the first aid issues that may occur as a result of accidents in the workplace. But what does the law say? And what is the best way of training your staff in first aid?
First Aid in the Workplace
The Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 necessitate that employers should provide appropriate and adequate facilities, equipment and people to ensure that their staff, in the event of an accident receive immediate attention should that be taken ill or be injured at work.
This set clear parameters but what is supplied in one workplace, may not necessarily be the same in another. How some businesses interpret these guidelines and regulations can vary but the basics are clear: every business needs to make adequate first aid provision as part of their health and safety obligations to their workforce. But it is important that the first aid training provides the provision that meets the potential problems that could occur.
What is First Aid?
First aid is the assistance given to someone who has suffered a sudden onset of illness or has been injured as a result of an accident. The care provided is about preserving life, preventing the person’s condition from worsening and to promote their recovery.
In other words, it can be as basic as caring for someone who feels faint to performing chest compressions on someone whose heart has stopped beating.
Appropriate First Aid Training
First aid training is no longer just a case of attending a short course and learning how to bandage someone’s head. The types of courses available vary so that as a business, you can have people trained in appropriate first aid skills.
But what informs the decision of which first aid course is best?
- Business activities
A basic first aid course equips anyone with the knowledge and skills of how to act in an emergency situation. It is a general course that covers eventualities that could arise anywhere. But your business may have specific requirements or staff could be more at risk of certain kinds of accidents and injuries, for example;
- Working with chemicals or bio-hazard waste
- Construction site
- Working with machinery and equipment such as chainsaws
This list is not exhaustive but you can see that the injuries from potential accidents at these three sites are very different. It may be that a general first aid course may not be sufficient, which is why there are specialise first aid courses at work that would encompass how to deal with injuries and accidents in specific industries or work settings.
- Business size
How many people work for you – is it a small number or is there a large site, with hundreds of people, all of whom could have a potentially life-threatening injury?
First aid provision needs to be adequate to cover the numbers of staff or people that you have on site. Therefore, the first aid kit that would bandage one person and one person qualified in first aid is insufficient in a factory with 300 staff.
Paediatric first aid is essential for any business, school, college etc. where children regularly attend. This is because some of the procedures performed on adults differ when used on children. Likewise, there are also some injuries and situations that are more likely to occur with children, such as choking. Being able to deal confidently with situations and injuries that arise is important, especially so when working with children.
- General public
It is also a consideration should you have members of the public accessing your work site too. Whilst your responsibility is to your staff, as a business you also have responsibility for health and safety of customers and members of the public. In other words, should there be an accident on site or a member of the public suddenly takes ill, there would be an expectation that your staff could deal with the issue. But the parameters are clear: to provide immediate assistance, preserve life and promote recovery. In some ways, this extends to calling an ambulance and keeping someone comfortable until they arrive.
Being a first aider is a responsibility and as such, many employers choose to recognise this with a payment for duty first aiders. This can be delivered per shift that they act as the first aider or as an annual payment.
Keeping people safe extends throughout your business and when things do happen, whether that is someone taken ill or a member of staff who has sustained an injury, knowing that you can provide the skills and equipment needed to help them is peace of mind. What first aid provision do you have? Is it enough?