Injuries or illnesses can occur anytime at a workplace. Investigating whether or not the work caused the injury or illness is less important. What is more important at the moment of an accident is that we give immediate attention to it. If the case is severe, then we should seek expert help and call an ambulance. That’s what a first aider does. According to The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981,
“An employer shall provide, or ensure that there are provided, such 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.”
So if you ask how many first aiders do I need, the answer would be- it depends on the nature of the job and the number of the employees. Because the exact number meant by “adequate and appropriate” is left open to interpretation. It can be difficult to know how to ensure that you are legally compliant. Only a correct risk assessment of your workplace and a first aid needs assessment can determine the number of first aiders you really need.
However, some of you may wonder what a first aider is and what exactly they do. Let’s address that first.
Each workplace is unique, and so the risks associated with every place is also different. That’s where a risk assessment comes in. After a proper risk assessment is run, it should be obvious what kind of safety net should be installed at your premises.
A first aider is a part of that safety net.
A first-aider is someone who has relevant training appropriate to the risks identified in the first aid needs assessment. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approves these training courses.
EFAW training seeks to enable us to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work. Relatively speaking, the training is quite basic here. The goal of EFAW is to ensure that a case of emergency does not escalate any further than what it already has. The case is handed over to the experts in healthcare quickly so that they have time to tend to the patient.
The nature and the content of FAW training are the same as EFAW. But it also trains first-aiders to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses.
First aid training can also include some other first-aid training appropriate to the particular circumstances of your workplace. Not all workplaces are built equal. This is why custom-tailored first aid training exists.
Other relevant training may have a specialist included or have additional content appropriate to your particular circumstances. Since these circumstances vary wildly, it is not really possible to categorise these first aiders under some standard terms.
The primary duties of a first aider are to
As stated before, a first aider’s training follows the particular risk assessment done in their workplace. This assessment also determines the number of first aiders that a workplace may need. A first-aid needs assessment should consider the following factors:
These factors are just a sample of the larger picture that constitutes risk assessment, and first aid needs assessment. You’ve to remember to take into account the practicalities of day to day work too. For example, if there is only one first aider, what happens when they go for a leave?
High-hazard workplaces, such as construction sites or fabrication plants with dangerous machinery, will definitely require qualified first-aiders, as no one can realise how dangerous these machines can get and the threat posed by them. On the off chance of an accident, additional training will enable them to deal with such a situation.
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Well, in that case, you must have an appointed person as a minimum. The duties of this person will be-
An appointed person does not need first aid training by law or anything, but an awareness level of the basics is advised.
If there is only one first aider and they are on leave or absent for some reason, an appointed person assumes their role instead.
An appointed person is not necessary if the workplace has a sufficient number of first aiders.
There is no legal requirement of the number of first aiders at a workplace. Since no specific guidelines exist, it’s determined largely with the help of first aid needs assessment.
But the HSE has some recommendations for us that would help us figure out this number.
The HSE divided the need for first aiders into two categories.
1. Low-level hazards (an office or a shop, for example)
2. Higher-level hazards (chemical or manufacturing plants, for example)
The following table shows us their recommendations for the number of first aiders in the workplace. This table, however, applies only to the number of FAW and EFAWs in a workplace.
Any other circumstances may require additional levels of training for a particular workplace.
Do note that they must take FAW or EFAW requalification practical training every three years to remain a qualified first aider.
Every first aider should take refresher training every year to keep their skills up-to-date.
The recommendations in the table are just a reference. If there are particular circumstances, such as shift work or sites with several buildings, you may need to increase your first-aid personnel. You’ll also need to account for absences at the same time.
As an employer, you will need assurance that you have selected an appropriate training provider for your employees. You’ve run a quality check on their courses against some set criteria that will tell you if they will train your employees sufficiently to do a good job. These are-
Having the correct first aid provision in the workplace is not only a legal requirement, but it will ensure the safety of you and your employees. Remember, our safety is not something that we can take lightly. That’s how the need for first aiders came into existence.
In this article, we answer the question “How many first aiders do I need?” and provide you with a comprehensive guide to enable you to be compliant with those legal requirements, as well as give you some advice on training your employees. It will guarantee that the employer has taken the maximum precaution to lessen the impact of an accident or avert it altogether.