PUBLIC – EMERGENCY FIRST AID AT WORK COURSE - Woman Placing Man In Recovery Position After Accident

First Aid at Work – What Your Business Needs to know

If you’re a small or medium-sized business, the Health and Safety Executive requirements for first-aid at work can be a little confusing. We’ve put together this post to help you navigate the minefield.

What is first-aid at work?

If your business has staff, either on or off-site, then you need to consider that at some point they may take ill or have an accident at work. Despite how the illness or injury happened it is your responsibility as the business owner to make sure that the member of staff can access immediate medical attention and have an ambulance called, if needs be.

Putting plans into place now can save lives and stop a minor incident escalating into a major one.

As a business, what do you need to do?

Under UK law, you are required to provide “adequate and appropriate” first-aid equipment, facilities and trained staff.

The term “adequate and appropriate” is not particularly helpful in and of itself. To prove that your business meets the regulations, you first need to access your workplace circumstances to work out what level of equipment, facilities and training is needed. As a bare minimum, you will need:

  • A stocked first-aid kit
  • An appointed person to manage your first-aid process
  • Easily accessible information for every member of staff

How to assess your first-aid needs

If you run a small business with one or two members of staff, who are carrying out low-risk work in a low-risk environment, then you may only need the minimum provisions mentioned above.

For larger or more complex organisations, it falls to you, as the business owner, to decide how you are going to satisfy the regulations. Hopefully, the information below will help you to start making some decisions about where on the scale of needs your business falls.

First thing to do

Walk around and review your workplace to identify what processes or workspaces might be considered hazardous. Identifying all the hazards will help you to work out the level of provision you need and any specialist training required.

If you just have regular office equipment, shelves, tills, a small kitchen for staff use, these are all considered low-level hazards and you’ll only need:

  • Someone appointed to manage your first-aid arrangements.
  • A well stocked first-aid kit.

On the other hand, if you deal with extreme heat, chemicals, dangerous machinery and have confined spaces people need to work in, you are likely to be in a higher-level hazard situation and need to have some of the following:

  • Someone appointed to manage your first-aid arrangements.
  • A well stocked first-aid kit.
  • First-aiders.
  • Specialised training for first-aiders to help handle injuries specific to your business.
  • Specialised first-aid equipment.
  • Well signposted access to first-aid equipment.
  • A first-aid room.
  • Regular updates with the emergency services.

Second thing to do

Consider how many members of staff you have, how much experience the majority of them have at any given time and whether your staff have any disabilities or health issues.

If you have more than a small handful of staff, a high turnover, staff with disabilities or health issues, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • Someone appointed to manage your first-aid arrangements.
  • A well stocked first-aid kit.
  • First-aiders.
  • Specialised training for first-aiders to help handle injuries specific to your business.
  • Specialised first-aid equipment.
  • Clearly sign-posted access to first-aid equipment.
  • A first-aid room.
  • Regular updates with the emergency services.

To make this process easier to evaluate on an on-going basis, make sure to start keeping records of all events — illnesses and injuries — so that you can see exactly how things have unfolded in the past. It’s too easy to forget things that happen in the daily course of business. Writing it down will help you in the long run.

What is an appointed person?

You may have noticed that one of the minimum requirements is that you appoint someone to manage your business’s first-aid needs. Let’s take a look at what that person’s responsibilities might look like:

  • Looking after first-aid equipment and ensuring that repairs and replacements are booked as necessary.
  • Ensuring that the designated first-aid room is kept clear and in good order.
  • Being the main point of contact for calling the emergency services.
  • Emergency cover for a first-aider if they are not around — this cannot include cover for annual leave.
  • Making sure that all information and sign-posting is kept up to date and is accessible to all members of staff.
  • Ensuring that the designated first-aiders all have up to date certificates and arranging courses.
  • Making sure all illness and injury records are kept and reviewed regularly.
  • Reviewing and updating of the first-aid plan as needed.

An appointed person is not required to have first-aid training themselves, but it is good practice to ensure that they do.

What is a first-aider?

You don’t generally have to have an appointed person if you have multiple first-aiders, but, realistically, someone needs to manage the process and be able to see the bigger picture.

A first-aider is someone within your business who has been fully trained in line with your needs assessment. Courses they may need to take include:

  • First Aid at Work (FAW)
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)
  • Paediatric First Aid Course
  • Defibrillator and AED training
  • Moving and Handling
  • Epilepsy training
  • Annual refresher courses
  • Any other specialised training

How many appointed persons or first-aiders do you need?

Like everything else in these regulations, there are no set numbers and that’s because every business is different. You’ll have to determine exactly what you need depending on shift patterns, the amount of staff you have and the hazard level of your place of business.

The Health and safety executive provides these guidelines:

From your risk
assessment, what degree
of hazard is associated
with your work activities?
How many
employees
do you
have?
What first-aid personnel do
you need?
Low-hazard, e.g. offices, shops, libraries Fewer than 25 At least one appointed person
25–50 At least one first-aider trained in EFAW
More than 50 At least one first-aider trained in FAW for every 100 employed (or part thereof)

 

Higher-hazard, e.g. light engineering and assembly work, food processing, warehousing, extensive work with dangerous machinery or sharp instruments, construction, chemical manufacture Fewer than 5 At least one appointed person
5–50 At least one first-aider trained in EFAW or FAW depending on the type of injuries that might occur
More than 50 At least one first-aider trained in FAW for every 50 employed (or part thereof)

 

Note: If you are working with children then the requirements are different and it is likely that all staff will need paediatric first-aid training together with any specialised training to meet the health needs of individual children in the school or nursery.

We hope that this quick guide helps clear up some of the confusion around what you may or may not need to do for your business in terms of first-aid training. Next time, we’ll take a look at what you need to have in your first-aid box.

We have years of experience in helping businesses meet the requirements by deploying first-aid training for them. Call us today on 01753 290 699 to discuss your needs.  

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