First Aid can be life-saving. It can make all the difference for someone who has been injured or taken ill and keep them alive while they wait for medical professionals. Given that there are over 650,000 workplace accidents every year it’s not a case of if but when.
So might be surprised to learn that until the Health & Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981 there was no legal requirement for first aid provision to be made in the workplace. Given the groundbreaking nature of this legislation, you might then expect that it lays out the chapter and verse of what your workplace needs to provide.
That’s not actually the case. It might seem a bit confusing at first that the regulations are less than specific but it’s for a very good reason. First Aid is essential and it needs to be the right assistance for the situation. There’s no point in offering an eyewash for a broken leg.
What are you required to provide?
There’s a need for employers to arrange for ‘adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or injured at work’. What is appropriate and adequate depends entirely on your workplace. That said, do be aware that some industries such as construction, commercial diving and offshore have specific requirements for things such as numbers of first aiders.
Don’t forget this is a requirement for all workplaces – no matter how small and at all times when someone is working. If you have solo working practices think about how that might fit into your first aid assessment and plan.
Here’s how to get started with having an effective and active approach to first aid in your workplace.
Assess the risk
Remember that first aid is there for a reason and that’s for immediate action to support the type of injuries and illness that may occur in your workplace. This means carrying out a risk assessment and identifying the issues. If it’s something you don’t feel confident with then get the support you need from a health and safety expert. Compliance in this area isn’t something you can afford to skimp on and will ensure that you have an approach that is fit for purpose.
While there are common risks across all types of workplaces there will be some that are more likely in your industry and situation. So if chemical spillages are a possibility then make sure that you have the right resources to deal with them and the people with the right training to use them.
Visitors and non-employees aren’t covered by the regulations but that’s no reason not to consider them in your assessment. First Aid is for everyone.
Create a first aid aware culture
Staff often think that first aid isn’t something they need to worry about unless they are the designated person. While training staff to deliver first aid is great it’s only part of the picture. It absolutely makes sense to have a person who is in charge of first aid arrangements but it shouldn’t sit entirely with them. Making all staff aware of the benefits can lead to a better awareness of health and safety risks across the company. This can translate into fewer incidents.
As an employer, an emphasis on health and safety lets your employees know that you care about their wellbeing and value them as well as the contribution they make to your business. We offer a variety of first aid training programmes that will empower staff to save lives and help them understand that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.
A plan is no good unless you put it into action.
- Let your employees know what your first aid arrangements are because timely action makes a difference. It’s also a legal requirement to make them aware
- Encourage feedback and take action to make necessary changes
- Offer refresh training to keep skills up-to-date
- Schedule regular reviews of your plan and your provision