28th April 2017
All employers are required, by the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, to be equipped for first aid at work.
This means that it is essential to have the right:
- space and facilities
Employers should be prepared for emergency first aid at work, which could potentially be life-saving if someone is injured or ill.
The first aid at work regulations apply to businesses of every shape and size. Even small businesses, run from home, should be fully prepared.
What does an employer need to do?
At the very least, employers should make sure that an adequately stocked first aid kit is available on-site at all times.
Employees should have access to basic first aid information.
Someone should also be assigned the task of taking charge of first aid. This role includes ensuring that the first aid kit is always properly stocked.
What should a first aid kit include?
There are no specific legal requirements. It is up to the employer to determine what might be necessary, and how many of each item to have.
At the very least, employers will want to include a small first aid guide for employees to refer to, as well as the following products:
- A variety of plasters, taking allergies into account.
- A selection of bandages.
- Sterile eye pads.
- A variety of sterile wound dressings.
- Safety pins.
- Disposable gloves.
All employers should consider the types of injury that their employees might be at risk of. These can vary from one environment to another.
Medications, including over-the-counter painkillers, should not feature in a first aid kit.
If risks of injury are low, a basic first aid kit may be all that’s needed. If the risk is higher, employers are advised to provide a more varied kit and perhaps a separate first aid room.
Is a first aid at work course necessary?
Trained first aiders are a benefit to any business, but may not be an absolute necessity. For a small low-risk business with fewer than 25 employees, an appointed person will likely be enough.
If a trained first aider isn’t needed, then it’s fine to assign someone without any training. They should oversee the use of the first aid kit, and call the emergency services if necessary, but will not need to have in-depth knowledge of how to provide first aid.
What if a trained first aider is required?
In a majority of cases, employers will want trained first aiders in the workplace.
You may be able to save money by looking for cheap first aid courses, or finding out about any subsidised first aid training. Alternatively, it may help to ask who’s been trained during previous employment and could go on a first aid at work refresher course.
For training, employees can go on a First Aid at Work or Emergency First Aid at Work course.
The Emergency First Aid at Work course will equip the trainee with the required knowledge for dealing with a range of small injuries and potential illness. The First Aid at Work course goes a little more in-depth and will cover a wider range of injuries. If risks are higher or there are many on-site employees, this more in-depth course may be needed.
As well as these general first aid courses, it may be necessary to sign up for specialist first aid training.
Ideally, first aiders should go through an annual first aid at work refresher. This not only keeps the training in the first aider’s mind, but can ensure that they don’t miss any changes to rules or recommendations.
Don’t stop at one! Consider if your workplace would benefit from multiple on-site first aiders, in case more than one person is injured at the same time. Also take into account your first aider’s shifts. There should always be someone on hand to help in a first aid emergency.
Should employers provide written first aid information?
Employees should be made aware, ideally in employee handbooks and through signs on walls, of the location of the first aid kit and the names of workplace first aiders.
The information should be accessible to all. If someone has reading difficulties, the same details should be provided in a different format.
What about accident records?
It is essential to keep an accident record, for compliance and the protection of the business. This doesn’t need to be anything special – an A4 notebook will do.
The accident record should include space to write down the names of the people involved, what happened and how the injury was treated. This should be used even if the injury occurs on site, but is not related to the work.
Injured parties should review the record and sign it, to show that they agree with what’s been said.
How are off-site employees looked after?
If employees frequently travel, they should ideally be equipped with a personal first aid kit in their vehicle. A company mobile phone is also a good idea.
If your company premises spread across multiple buildings or locations then it is essential to have first aid provisions in each and every location.
If employees work within another company’s premises, perhaps as a contractor, then it is their employer’s responsibility to check that first aid provisions have been made.
How should customers be accommodated?
Businesses do not have a responsibility to make first aid provisions for their customers. However, it’s strongly advised that they do.
Including customers in first aid evaluations can reduce the risk of negligence claims. It is also wise to keep an accident record for customers as well as employees.