First Aid – Your responsibilities as an employer
All employers have a legal duty to make ‘appropriate’ first aid provision in the workplace. Deciding what is ‘appropriate’ will vary greatly depending on a number of factors including the number of employers, nature of the workplace and the hazards present. The Compliance People Consultant, Jonathan Teale looks at the responsibilities for employers with respect to the provision of first aid.
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE FIRST AID FOR NON-EMPLOYEES?
Employers are not strictly required to make first aid provision in relation to non-employees, though the HSE strongly advises employers to include consideration of members of the public where the employer is providing services to members of the public on its premises.
WHAT IS A ‘FIRST AID NEEDS ASSESSMENT’?
This is simply a risk assessment to determine what first aid provision should be made. All employers should consider what first aid provision should be made. On a simple, low risk site (e.g. an office), this can be included within the general risk assessment for the site. On a more complex site with significant hazards, it may be beneficial to complete a separate dedicated risk assessment to consider first aid needs.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FIRST AIDER AND AN APPOINTED PERSON?
A first aider is an individual who has been trained to administer first aid. There are two levels of training provided: ‘First Aid at Work’ is the full first aid course typically lasting 3 or more days. ‘Emergency First Aid at Work’ is a shorter condensed course lasting 1 day. Refresher training is generally completed every 3 years.
In the past, first aid trainers had to be accredited by the HSE, but this ceased in 2013 (i.e. the training provider no longer needs to be accredited by the HSE)
An appointed person is an individual who is appointed to contact the emergency services in the event of an accident in which emergency medical assistance is required. An appointed person is not expected to administer first aid and does not need to complete training.
HOW MANY FIRST AIDERS DO I NEED?
There is no legally specified number of first aiders, but the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice provides recommended minimum number as follows:
- Lower risk sites (offices, shops, etc):
- Fewer than 25 employees: at least one ‘appointed person’.
- 25-50 employees: at least one ‘emergency first aid at work’ trained person.
- More than 50 employees: at least one ‘first aid at work’ trained person per 100 employees (or part thereof).
- Higher risk sites (manufacturing, construction etc):
- Fewer than 5 employees: one appointed person.
- 5-50 employees: at least one ‘emergency first aid at work’ trained person.
- More than 50 employees: one ‘first aid at work’ trained person per 50 employees (or part thereof).
An employer can provide fewer than the above recommended number, but the employer should be able to demonstrate why this is acceptable in the first aid needs assessment.
WHAT SHOULD BE IN A FIRST AID KIT?
There is no mandatory list of contents for first aid kits, but the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice does provide suggested minimum contents. The exact provision should depend on the size of the site, number of employees, and nature of hazards present. (See HSE Guidance L74 Appendix 2 here).
There is no requirement to provide a First Aid room, but the Approved Code of Practice does provide additional recommendations concerning stocking of a First Aid room where provided.
WHAT DO THE REGULATIONS SAY ABOUT MEDICATION?
First aid training does not cover administration of medicines and first aiders do not administer medicines (except in some cases aspirin following a heart attack). Therefore, first aid kits should not generally include medicines. However, it is acceptable for employees to provide their own medicines on site for personal use.
WHAT OTHER FIRST AID PROVISION SHOULD I CONSIDER?
On sites where there is a risk of chemicals or particles entering the eye, eye wash stations should be provided.
On sites where somebody may be inadvertently covered in a hazardous chemical, an emergency shower(s) should be provided close to the area(s) where the risk arises. Remember to flush the shower(s) periodically to ensure that it remains functional and as a legionella control.
Other products may also be provided to help neutralise exposure to caustic chemicals (e.g. calcium gluconate gel for exposure to hydrofluoric acid). Make sure that employees know where to find special equipment.
Burns kits may be provided in areas where employees are at risk of burns.
Sites providing healthcare may have special response kits in case of needlestick injuries, to minimise to risk of transmission of infectious diseases following a needlestick incident.
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE A DEFIBRILLATOR?
There is no legal requirement to provide defibrillator. However, use of a defibrillator in the first minutes after a heart attack significantly improves the person’s chance of survival. (As auditors, we have visited a number of sites where defibrillators have saved lives). These days, most defibrillators provide a recorded voice telling the user exactly how to use the equipment, removing the need for specialist training (though training can be completed to provide additional confidence).
In conclusion, here are some key points:
- The level of first aid provision you should provide depends on the number of employees you have and the hazards in your workplace.
- First aid provision must be sufficient to cover employees, but is not required to cover non-employees. However, the HSE recommends that employers consider providing First Aid to members of the public where the employer is providing hospitality to the public on its premises.
- The law does not specify the exact number of first aiders you should have but the HSE does provide recommended numbers.
- There are two levels of First Aid training: First Aid at Work (usually 3+ days) and Emergency First Aid at Work (1 day). The level of training required depends on the number of employees and risk profile of the workplace.
There is no legal requirement to provide a defibrillator, but many employers are increasingly choosing to do so. Use of a defibrillator within the first few minutes of a heart attack significantly improve a person’s chances of survival.
If you need more help, why not get in touch with us? – Our professional team of consultants offer independent, periodic compliance evaluations for both environment and health & safety.