We tend to find when people book First Aid Courses in Cumbria that this is one question they often find quite confusing. Hopefully, we can shed some light…
[Disclaimer: What follows is intended to be a rough guide only, and should not be relied upon by itself. If you are responsible for First Aid provision in your organisation, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are complying with the necessary regulations.]
The first thing to say is that the legal requirements depend on who you are. This page deals with employers. We’ll deal with people the legal requirements for those who work with children and young people elsewhere.
Firstly, what about non-Employers such as voluntary clubs and other groups?
If you’re not an employer, by the way, the rules are far less strict but it’s a good idea to follow the framework set down for employers. They’re actually a pretty good framework.
Employers and First Aid
The government department which looks after this is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE has significantly de-regulated First Aid in the last decade and – as some see it – largely washed their hands of it, but they are still responsible and they do still lay down some fairly strict provisions regarding who can teach first aid and what is required of employers.
The HSE guidelines are spelt out in detail in this document. What follows is a brief summary, given on the understanding that if you are responsible for First Aid and/ or Health and Safety (or similar) in your organisation, then you probably should dive into the full document.
It’s all about the Risk Assessment
This is what the HSE says in brief:
An employer shall provide, or ensure that there are provided, suchRegulation 3, The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first-aid to be rendered to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work.
In other words, contrary to popular belief, there are no regulations saying that you must have X number of people with such-and-such a qualification, nor that you must have a specific list of things in your First Aid Kit etc etc.
(The Law is quite prescriptive when it comes to dealing with children however, but that’s a different article. This one, in fact.)
In short, the HSE regulations (i.e. the law, basically) says that you have to make an assessment of what’s appropriate to your workplace, and then put that assessment into practice.
This is where you really do need to read the document, because there are a lot of things to consider in carrying out your assessment: hazards on site, experience of workers, history of accidents, disabilities, out of hours workers, public visitors and so on.
Your assessment will let you know how many First Aiders you need, what level of training they need to have, what equipment and facilities are needed.
The HSE document (this one) reminds us that there has been a traditional four-layer framework for qualification/ training levels in place for a while in the UK. It looks like this:
- Appointed Person (AP)
- Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)
- First Aid at Work (FAW)
- Further Training
Most First Aid Courses in Cumbria (and indeed everywhere in the UK) will be either EFAW or FAW courses.
The syllabus for the first three of these courses is set out by the HSE elsewhere (here, to be precise). They also set down (same document) the conditions for who can deliver this training and how long the qualifications last for (three years, basically)
‘Further Training’ means that for some workplaces, even the three-day FAW course might not be enough. If you are working in a high-risk environment where any injuries sustained might be either very serious or difficult for paramedics to access (oil rig, military, some construction work, for instance) then you might want to send some of your team for what is loosely referred to as a ‘medics course’ or a ‘Prehospital care’ qualification. There is no HSE framework here, but the FREC courses are a popular option. They start at Level 3 and go right through to Level 6, at which point you’re basically a paramedic!
Our original HSE document (hello) gives a rough suggestion as to what this might look like:
..but you really do need to do your own assessment, in line with the document.
First Aid Kits & Other Facilities
One thing we hear all the time is people claiming to know what the law says about the contents of a First Aid Kit. In fact, there is no such law. Parliament and the governments regulatory bodies rarely busy themselves with the minutia of things. Rather they set overall standards, and this is what they’ve done with First Aid Kits:
The minimum level of first-aid equipment is a suitably stocked and properly identified first-aid container. Every employer should provide for each work site at least one first-aid container supplied with a sufficient quantity of first-aid materials suitable for the particular circumstances.First aid at work: The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. Guidance on Regulations L74, para. 36
In other words, again, it’s about doing what’s appropriate following your Risk Assessment.
To help us out here, happily, there is a ‘British Standard’ detailing what should go in First Aid Kits. In other words, somebody has already done a lot of the work for us, but, remember, we do still need to do our own assessment!
British Standards are basically government approved guidelines telling us what some things (products, services, and so on) should look like.
The British Standard for First Aid Kits is BS8599-1:2019.
Putting the year at the end tells us when the standard was last revised.
Our BS8599-1:2019 First Aid Kits page has more on this.
As well as First Aid Kits, our good old HSE document (hello again) also weight in on First Aid rooms (which you might need if you’re big enough), Tablets & Medication (which they suggest shouldn’t be in First Aid Kits), Foil Blankets, Automated External Defibrillators (a great idea), and a few other things. Again, have a read.
One quick note on tablets and medication though before we move on: Contrary to what a lot of people will tell you there is no hard-and-fast law against have these in a First Aid kit, but the HSE do recommend against it, with the exception that aspirin is part of the protocol for treating heart attacks these days and so might be useful.
Letting People Know What’s What
Once you’ve done your Risk Assessment and implemented everything it requires, the HSE also require that you tell people about it.
An employer shall inform his employees of the arrangements that have been made in connection with the provision of first-aid, including the location of equipment, facilities and personnel.Regulation 4, The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
Reporting & Recording
One other thing that’s required is that certain things should be reported and recorded.
There should be an accident book which First Aiders fill in following any treatment given or actions taken.
There is also good old RIDDOR.
RIDDOR is short for ‘Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013’. It’s been around since before 2013, but this was the last major update.
In short, certain things that happen have to be reported to the HSE. Details of what needs reporting (it’s quite a list) and how to report it can be found on the RIDDOR page of the HSE site.
We haven’t listed everything that employers are required to do, but hopefully this gives a good overview. Did we mention that if this sort of thing is your responsibility, then you really do need to read the HSE document?