Overwhelmed by legal requirements

Do I need a first aid course –
the legal answer

Do I need a first aid course? Does the law mean I have to do one?

Having spent decades of my career training people in practical skills such as first aid,  mountaineering, rock climbing and canoeing I tend to answer most questions with this statement:

“It depends…….”

I am not trying to dodge the question, but the answer to the question depends on a number of factors:

Factor 1. Your industry or profession demand it.
Outdoor professionals, those operating on Forestry Commission sites, many sports coaches,  recently qualified nursery workers and others may require an in date first aid qualification that covers the first aid risks they may have to deal with. Not having a valid first aid certificate may mean you are no longer insured.

Factor 2. What is ‘adequate and appropriate’ for your place of work?
Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to provide adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and people so your employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work.

How do you know what is ‘adequate and appropriate’?

You look at the reasonable risks your employees might be exposed to. A very low risk workplace might only need a suitably stocked first aid kit and one person who is responsible for keeping it stocked and for contacting the emergency services. They may not even need a first aid qualification. An Emergency First Aid at Work (6 hours) might make them feel more confident.

If you have over 25 staff on one site or shift in a low risk environment its recommended to have at least Emergency First Aid at Work (6 hours) on site. Think about how annual leave may affect this if you only have one trained First Aider.

When you start to add more hazards such as machinery, trainees, chemicals and larger teams on one site your risk has increased so you’ll need suitably trained First Aiders and a first aid kit that reflects the risks identified in your risk assessment.

Do you require people to protect their eyes from a hazard? Then you may need an eye bath in your first aid kit and First Aiders who know how to use it; so you’ll probably want the 3 day First Aid at Work course.

This can seem confusing but the Health and Safety Executive has put together some great resources. These are practical and based on common sense.

Why not start with this one resource: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg214.pdf It’s free and downloadable.

A quick overview of the legislation with links is here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/legislation.htm

At Highland First Aid we provide practical and realistic training, we encourage people to bring risk assessments, questions and problems. We then use those risk assessments, questions and problems to structure the training for that day, whilst still meeting the relevant standards set by bodies as the Scottish Qualifications Authority and ITC First.

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