Does my Workplace Need a First Aider on-site? 

This is one of the frequently asked questions we respond to. Oftentimes we hear statements like; “surely it’s impossible for someone to severely injure themselves in an office? Sadly, it isn’t. Even the safest work environment comes with hazards, for example, simple things like IT system wiring running across a floor, or a loose carpet or tile can cause serious injuries. 
Child suffering from asthma
If you operate a non-office business the risks are probably even more obvious. Here’s what you need to know about compliance, in particular those rules laid down by the law of the land and the HSE. This is why you need a first aider on site. 
About workplace health & safety 
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 state that as a minimum requirement, appoint a specific person to look after first aid arrangements at your premises or site. On the other hand, if your workplace is classified in a ‘high health and safety risks’ category because of the work carried out on the premises and indicated by a detailed first aid risk assessment, it’s likely a trained person who can provide first-aid may be required at a minimum. 
Exactly how many on-site first aiders does my business need? 
It depends on what your official first-aid needs assessment identifies. The HSE provides a wealth of information on first aid needs assessments. There are several significant areas to focus on when deciding on the number of first aiders you’ll need in your workplace. This includes but is not an exhaustive list: 
The levels of risk, type, and size of the workplace, the working environment (office or a factory) 
The number of employees in your organisation 
The history and type of incidents, injuries, and illnesses previously recorded 
Anything affecting the provision of first aid, for example, inexperienced employees, remote workplaces, first aider absences, etc. 
According to the regulations, it’s the employer’s responsibility to identify how many first-aiders are needed, to provide immediate attention in the event of an injury or illness at work experienced by an employee. If a workplace is classified as a low-level risk such as offices and shops then a minimum provision of an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements and a suitably stocked first-aid box may only be needed. 
What qualities should a nominated person have and what training is needed to become an appointed first aider? 
Ideally, the nominated first-aider/s should enjoy the role and exhibit a calm and confident personality to cope in an emergency and be easily available during a first-aid emergency. In addition, the nominated person should be physically fit to carry out first aid procedures and must have the time, authority and support to undertake their duties. 
The nominated person must have the right level of workplace first aid training and knowledge so they can perform first aid with confidence. The specific expertise they need depends on the kind of risks associated with a workplace as identified in a risk assessment. For example, if the risks are relatively low it might be sufficient to take a one-day Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work, for higher-risk working environments a three-day first aid course known as a Level 3 Award in First Aid at Work may be necessary. 
Learn more about the difference between First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work courses. 
Many places of work usually opt for a one-day course to meet minimum requirements. On occasions, the first aiders may need additional training if there is an employee at work who suffers from a specific condition i.e. Asthma or Diabetes or if the workplace presents specific risks. 
You may find a bespoke course offers a solution to cover every aspect of the unique risks your business faces. Perhaps you operate using hazardous substances or your employees regularly work at height. 
Another useful piece of information to note is that the first aid at work certificate is valid for three years. To continue as a competent first aider a refresher/re-qualification course must be successfully completed to maintain compliance with the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. 
What happens if you don’t appoint a site first aider? 
Simply put the consequences to your business can potentially be costly. Not employing a first aider could likely increase the risk of an illness or an injury becoming worse and left unattended until an ambulance arrives. In the UK, just under 60% of deaths from injury could have been prevented if first aid was administered before the ambulance arrived. 
In fact, the Resuscitation Council (UK) claims that every minute without CPR and defibrillation treatment following a cardiac arrest reduces the casualty’s chances of survival by as much as 10%. 
If your risk assessment indicates a first aider is needed on-site, you must ensure your business places ‘adequate and appropriate’ measures to minimise risk to the health and safety of everyone at work as far as possible. Failure could lead to prosecution. 
In an emergency where the appointed first-aider isn’t adequately trained to deal with a first-aid incident, the employer can be prosecuted. The HSE will investigate the incident and how it was handled to determine the level of training the first-aider received. If the first aider is not adequately trained to the requirements identified in your workplace risk assessment, the HSE could prosecute the workplace. 
Keep calm and avoid an asthma attack 
Stress and anxiety have also been seen to bring on an asthma attack, so encourage your colleagues to remain calm at work and address any causes for concern as soon as possible. Allow plenty of breaks and make sure people aren’t working too hard or too much. 
For further details, visit the HSE enforcement policy
It has shown that the risk to employees can be significantly reduced when a business has adequately qualified and competent first-aiders on-site, employees, who can respond and intervene fast. Appointing qualified first-aiders demonstrates accountability and responsibility towards your employee’s well-being at work. 
So, does my workplace need a first aider on-site? Hopefully, this article answers some of your questions. 
Here at First Aid Safety, we have been offering Lifesaving First Aid Training Courses Since 2012. If you are unsure of the course suitable for your requirements please contact us on 020 7112 8543.  
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