First aid training: what you need to know

Thursday August 26, 2021

Whatever your workplace, there is always a chance that an employee may be injured or become unwell on the job. As an employer, the law requires you to make arrangements for the provision of emergency first aid.  

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 state that you must “provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.” This applies to all employers, including the self-employed and those with fewer than five employees.  

The key phrase here is “adequate and appropriate”. The precautions you take will vary depending on the nature of your work. For low-risk workplaces, a first aid kit may be all that you need, but if you work in a more hazardous environment, you may want to appoint one or more trained first aiders. Before deciding what to do, you should complete a first aid risk assessment.  

Carrying out a first aid risk assessment 

Your risk assessment for first aid should be as detailed as possible. Look at every aspect of a typical working day in order to gauge the level of risk. Things to consider include: 

The type of work you do 

  • The hazards involved and the likelihood of serious injuries
  • The size of your workforce and the number of lone or travelling workers
  • The number of sites you operate – each building may need a separate assessment
  • Vulnerable or inexperienced people on your workforce
  • Shift patterns, sickness absence and holiday rotas
  • Accidents that have happened in the past
  • The distance to the nearest medical facilities
  • Whether you may need to administer first aid to the public  

It is not compulsory to write down your findings, but doing so can be helpful when planning your next steps, and could be a useful defence, should things go wrong.  

Putting someone in charge 

Whatever the outcome of your assessment, the law requires you to select an “Appointed Person” to take charge of first aid provisions. Their duties include looking after first aid equipment, restocking first aid kits and calling the emergency services if necessary. An Appointed Person doesn’t need any formal training, but they should be present whenever the workplace is in use. If this isn’t possible, you can appoint more than one person.  

What to put in a first aid kit 

As a minimum, all workplaces should have a fully stocked first aid kit. The exact contents of the kit will depend on your first aid risk assessment and the size of the first aid kit. Every first aid kit should have a contents list and it should include: sterile eye pads and plasters of various sizes; unmedicated dressings for wounds in medium and large sizes; disposable gloves; safety pins; written instructions for basic first aid procedures. You can buy these off-the-shelf from any reputable supplier. 

Your Appointed Person should check the kit regularly. Sterile items with expiry dates should be replaced in good time. If a sterile item doesn’t have an expiry date, you should contact the manufacturer to check how long it will last.  

Training a first aider  

For most workplaces, it will be a good idea to train at least one first aider. At The Health & Safety Dept we provide a range of one, two and three-day courses covering adult and paediatric first aid. We can deliver these from our local premises, or why not enquire about us coming to your site? Our instructors are fully accredited and have years of experience. We also offer several accessible eLearning courses and provide first aid risk assessment services. Contact your local Health & Safety Dept to get started.

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