The importance of first aid training at work

The importance of first aid training at work

Toby Pochron, Senior Associate in the Freeths LLP Employment Law department, writes about first aid training in the workplace, including the law surrounding the topic, the benefits of having first aid trained employees, and also the three different categories of first aiders.

In this article, we will discuss and provide employers with insight into first aid training at work, the governing legislation and the benefits of conducting effective first aid training in the workplace.

The law around first aid training in the workplace

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 is the governing legislation regulating first aid training at work. The Regulation places a strict duty upon employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel for first-aid if employees are injured or become ill at work.

‘Adequate and appropriate’ equipment, facilities and personnel are not defined by the regulations themselves. They could be interpreted in any way depending on the employer. At first flush this does not seem right as the remainder of the regulations are prescriptive and provide detailed obligations.

However, as confusing as it may seem, the exact purpose of the regulations is for employers to be involved in determining what is right for their workforce without there being a one-size-fits-all approach.

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Conducting a first aid risk assessment

The best tool to establish what ‘adequate and appropriate’ means is by carrying out a risk assessment of first aid needs to the appropriate circumstances of each workplace. The purpose of the assessment is to reduce injury and illness at a workplace but also to assess the appropriate needs in the event of an injury.

A few examples of the factors an employer should consider in their assessments are:

  • nature of the business and hazards;
  • nature of the employees;
  • history of previous accidents in the work place;
  • the size of the business and workplace;
  • work patterns of employees.

Upon completing an assessment of the workplace, the employer should consider the findings of the assessment and take steps to mitigate the risks on the whole – but also specifically in relation to first aid. Depending on the nature and scale of the business, certain number of personnel will be required to be first aid trained.

An important factor when considering the number of first-aiders in a workplace is the availability of the person. Employers must ensure (depending on the business) that a first aider or an appointed person is available at all times during work hours. Therefore, it is important to consider elements such as annual leave and sick leave when deciding to first-aid train a member of staff.

This is where an employer could consider a ‘back-up’ first aider to ensure it always has a first aider on site to deal with any requirements and remains compliant with the law.

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Conducting first aid training at work

Over time, three categories of first aiders have been established to help employers comply with the regulation. Training for each category covers different first-aid related subjects. The three established categories are:

  • Appointed Person (AP) – Appointed to look after first aid equipment and ensure they are stocked and calling emergency services when required.
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) – EFAW first aider should understand the role of the first aider and be able to act promptly in an emergency. They are also trained to provide first aid to individuals who are unconscious, choking, wounded or suffering form shock. They may also provide first aid for minor injuries such as small cuts and minor burns.
  • First Aid at Work (FAW) – A FAW has a slight advanced understanding of first aid and can provide first aid to casualties with injuries to bones and muscles, chest injuries, burns, eye injuries, poisoning and anaphylactic shock. They should also be able to identify major illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, epilepsy and provide required first aid.

As a very minimum, a workplace must have an Appointed Person to look after the first aid equipment, facilities, stock and call emergency services where needed. However, depending on the size and risks of a business, employers are required to appoint and train more first aid members. Whilst this is at their discretion, employer must ensure that there are reasonable number of first aiders trained at a workplace. For example:

A low-risk office:

  • One Appointed Person for fewer than 25 employees.
  • One EFAW trained first aider for 25-50 employees.
  • One FAW trained first aider for more than 50 employees and addition first aider for every additional 100 employees.

The above is merely an example of how an employee could set themselves criteria on when to train further staff and which types of training are required. The ultimate decision is for the employer to make but understandably, this is a difficult decision as breaching the law could have severe consequences. Therefore, it is highly recommended to instruct a credible training provider to help an employer formalise a risk assessment and train the required number of staff.

The best type of training will relate to the general hazards faced by employees and also specific hazards which may be faced by employees in their workplace.

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The benefits of workplace first aid training

First aid training is crucial for a workplace and the benefits are certainly self-evident. Whilst there are many benefits, the following benefits are considered to be the most advantageous for a workplace:

  • First-aid training reduces recovery time as an injured person will receive rapid aid.
  • Providing immediate aid could stop injuries from becoming critical and saves lives.
  • Employees will feel safer at the workplace knowing competent first-aiders are readily available.
  • It is great cost-friendly tool to stay compliant with the law.

Conclusion

Whilst this article only covers the tip of the iceberg, we can clearly establish that first aid training is extremely important at a workplace. Employer should endeavour to ensure they are compliant with the law and have sufficient amount of first aiders available depending on their assessment. There are many training providers who provides excellent first-aid training and guidance for business at a very little cost but with enormous benefits.

Read more from the myhrtoolkit blog

Do businesses need first aid training?

What are the main health and safety responsibilities of employers?

Picture of Toby Pochron

Written by Toby Pochron

Toby Pochron is a Senior Associate in the Freeths LLP Employment Law department. He was a Partner in the Employment Law department of Ironmonger Curtis.

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