What is first aid at work? A simple guide to employers’ duties

First aid kit isolatedFor almost 100 years, RoSPA’s mission has been to prevent accidents before they happen. However, safety statistics show that things still do occasionally go wrong. As an employer you have a legal obligation to provide a duty of care to your staff, making sure that your employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or are injured at work. With that in mind, we have put together a short guide to first aid for employers, arming you with what you need to protect your staff and fulfil your legal obligations…

What is first aid?

First aid is the provision of immediate care to a victim with an injury or illness, with the aims of preventing further injury, preserving life and promoting recovery.

What are employers’ legal duties?

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide: ‘adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.’

These Regulations apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed. At the very minimum you will need to provide a suitably stocked first-aid kit, an appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements and information for all employees giving details of first aid arrangements.

First aid needs assessment

Every organisation needs to make an assessment of the first aid needs appropriate to the circumstances of your business, considering the workplace, the workforce and the hazards and risks present. Like those seeking a risk assessment template, it is important to recognise that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and that first aid needs assessments need to be individually tailored to the unique needs of your organisation in order to help you establish the following:

How many first aiders do I require?

At the moment, there is no legislation requiring UK companies to have a fixed number of first aiders, although at the very minimum you must have an appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements. However, due to your legal obligation to provide adequate treatment in reasonable time, the vast majority of organisations opt for a minimum of two first aiders, and potentially many more depending on the size and scale of your operation. Remember first aiders need to be in close physical proximity to an accident in order to provide the necessary care quickly and effectively and need to be covered if they are absent due to illness or annual leave.

How do I train my first aiders?

If you have identified the need for first aiders, they will need to be trained by a competent first aid training provider. RoSPA now offers First Aid at Work – a Qualsafe accredited training course leg-injurydesigned to provide designated first aiders with essential skills that will enable them to gain First Aid at Work certification in just three days.

How many first aid kits do I need?

You should provide at least one first aid kit for each workplace, although many more will be required on larger sites. It is vital these kits are easily accessible and maintained to a high standard.

What should I include in my first aid kits?

While there is no legal requirement for a standardised content, each kit should be stocked with a sufficient quantity of first aid materials suitable for the particular circumstances of your workplace, as defined in your first aid needs assessment. For example you may need cleansing wipes, foil blankets, eye wash etc. It is important that the contents of first aid kits is regularly checked and updated where necessary. Employers may wish to refer to British Standard BS8599 which provides further information on the contents of workplace first aid kits.

Is a first aid room required?

Depending on the findings of your first aid needs assessment you may need to provide a suitable first aid room. This will usually be necessary in larger premises or where higher hazards are present. The room should be easily accessible at all times, be kept clean, tidy and where possible include washable surfaces, suitable ventilation and light and a sink with hot and cold water. The HSE has published further guidance on equipment and facilities that may be required in a first aid room.

Where can first aiders get refresher training?

With the constantly shifting landscape of health and safety legislation and practice, it is important to keep your first aiders’ knowledge up to date. RoSPA now provide a First Aid at Work Refresher course, designed to provide your first aiders with the skills and knowledge they need to do their job effectively.

How do I record accidents?

Finally, it’s important to note that under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013), you have a legal duty to keep a record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease. For more information, please see our blog post ‘what is RIDDOR?

Related reading

What is COSHH?

How to build the perfect health and safety policy template

Manual Handling Training Courses

For more vital health and safety guides, facts and advice, sign up to SafetyMatters, RoSPA’s free fortnightly newsletter and receive our collection of free original e-books!

4 thoughts on “What is first aid at work? A simple guide to employers’ duties

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  1. It is really important to know how to conduct first aid procedures, not just only in the workplace but whenever and wherever you are. No one can tell when do accidents happen, at least be ready for it. Be wise, be literate and be aware.

    Best Regards,

    Sheryl Mae

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