First Aid Training for the Workplace
First aid is the medical attention that is administered right on site immediately after the accident occurs at the location where it occurred. Usually it is a short-term treatment that helps the injured victim as much as possible until they can get to a hospital for more in-depth treatment. This includes the cleaning of scrapes, minor cuts and scratches, applying bandages, drinking fluids to relieve heat stress and other treatments depending on the accident and injury.
First aid generally includes a series of simple techniques that anyone can perform with minimal first aid training and little to no equipment. The main goal of first aid is to save lives and minimise the threat of death when the accident first occurs. Also it will prevent further harm and stop the condition from worsening. For example this might include applying pressure to a bleeding wound to stop too much blood being lost. First aid will also help to start the recovery process and encourage healing.
How do I choose a first aider or appointed person first aid representative?
In your workplace you will need to appoint one or two people who are responsible for first aid response. This person can be in charge of first aid equipment or facilities and they can be the one to call an ambulance in an emergency and provide care for an injured employee. This person would typically need to attend the 1-day Emergency First Aid at Work course which is designed for the workplace. If your workplace is higher risk or you have more than fifty employees then you may want to consider the 3-Day First Aid at Work qualification and subsequently the 2-day First Aid at Work Refresher every 3 years.
It is important to choose someone who is reliable and has good communication skills. They should be able to react calmly under pressure and not panic or freeze up in a stressful situation. They should also be very well informed about first aid procedures and be able to perform their duties correctly and confidently.
Important 2018 HSE Update Notice!
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have updated their guidance. As of 2018, employers need to consider covering Mental Health First Aid training in addition to First Aid at Work training. Find out what you need to know using our Mental Health First Aid Training in the Workplace Guide.
The importance of first aid at work
First Aid training is one of the most important types of training that workers should learn and use, especially if they are working in a dangerous industry such as construction or manufacturing. According to the Health and Safety Regulations of 1981, employers need to make sure that they provide adequate first aid arrangements for all employees. In a low risk workplace, this usually involves having employees who are trained in first aid with an emergency first aid kit available. Available In more dangerous industries, you might need to have a dedicated first aider and more.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your first aiders receive the right training and that they have the necessary first aid skills to respond to an emergency. Having a qualified first aider in the workplace who can respond to an accident immediately could be lifesaving.
Employer Assessment of First Aid Needs
Employers are required to carry out an assessment of first-aid needs. This involves consideration of workplace hazards and risks, the size of the organisation and other relevant factors, to determine what first aid supplies and first aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be provided.
The first aid kit is essential in any office, it should be available to employees and stocked with the appropriate supplies that you might need in an emergency. The first aid kit could include plasters, gauze, rubbing alcohol, painkillers, scissors, tweezers, medical tape and other important tools. These tools can be used to deal with small cuts and scrapes, as well as patch up major injuries as a temporary solution before the emergency services arrive.
By ensuring that your staff members have updated first aid qualifications and that your first aid kit has updated supplies, you can make sure that you are prepared for any emergency in the workplace.
Keep a first aid kit in your office!
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. The Regulations apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed.
What is ‘adequate and appropriate’ will depend on the circumstances in your workplace. This includes what supplies should be included in a first aid box and if a first-aid room is required. Employers should carry out an assessment of first aid needs to determine what to provide.
The Regulations do not place a legal duty on employers to make first aid provision for non-employees such as the public or children in schools. However, HSE strongly recommends that non-employees are included in an assessment of first-aid needs and that provision is made for them.
What is an ‘Appointed Person’?
An Appointed Person is someone who is in charge of looking after the first aid equipment and will deliver first aid when it is needed. This Appointed Person should be aware of their legal responsibilities and should have the correct first aid training in order to carry those responsibilities out correctly.
You never know when an accident might occur
Accidents are hard to predict and they can happen at any time. One of your workers might fall off a ladder, get their hand caught in a saw or even have a heart attack or a seizure while eating lunch in the break room. It is important that your employees know how to respond in such an emergency situation so that the victim has the best chance of survival.
First aid can be anything from wrapping up a wound to stop bleeding, performing CPR or simply putting the victim in a recovery position and helping them to overcome shock. These immediate actions are very important and they help improve the chances of recovery and survival for the victim.
Accidents and incidents need to be recorded
It is very important for employers to provide first aiders and appointed persons with a book where they can record the incidents that happen. These recordings will help you to identify potential dangers in your workplace so that you can make the environment safer. Also these reports will be important evidence if there is a workplace accident related compensation claim.
Some of the important information that should be recorded about the incident is the date, time and place of the incident, the name and the work position of the injured person and the details of the injury. The report should detail the first aid that was given and it should include details about what happened to the employee immediately afterward. It should be signed by the first aider who dealt with the incident.
How long are first aid qualifications valid for?
When you obtain your Emergency First Aid at work or First Aid at Work qualification, these certificates will be valid for three years from the date that they are issued. When this time frame has expired, you will need to take a First Aid at Work Refresher course so that you can renew your qualification for three more years. This will ensure that you maintain your first aid skills and keep up to date with any changes that might have been made to the health and safety legislation or the legal requirements.
What about employees who travel regularly or work elsewhere?
As an employer you are responsible for ensuring the safety for your employees, even when they are working away from the main site. If you have employees who travel long distances they should carry a personal first-aid box and they should also have a mobile phone.
What are the Health and Safety Regulations 1981?
The Health and Safety Regulations 1981 require employers to provide suitable equipment, facilities and personnel to enable immediate assistance to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work. The Regulations state that in order to provide first aid to injured or ill employees, a person shall not be suitable unless he has undergone:
- such first aid training and has such qualifications as the Health and Safety Executive may approve for the time being in respect of that case or class of case
- such additional first aid training, if any, as may be appropriate in the circumstances of that case
For more guidance and information visit the following page on the HSE website: first aid in work – what you need to do.
Mental Health First Aid Training
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have updated their guidance. As of 2018, employers need to consider covering Mental Health First Aid training in addition to first aid training.
Mental health first aid training is:
- spotting the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues
- providing non-judgemental support and reassurance
- guiding a person to seek professional support.
What action should I take?
Your organisation should consider:
- ensuring that their health and safety risk assessments consider not just physical health and risks, but also mental health and risks
- managing and mitigating the risks of harm in the workplace and having ways to support people with mental health issues
- treating mental health in a similar way to physical health. For example, by having as many first aiders for mental health as for physical health.
Your workplace may want to:
- have qualified Mental Health First Aiders. This includes adequate mental health first aid cover for periods of absence or multiple workplace sites.
- consider the recommendations (‘Core Standards’) of the Thriving at Work: Stevenson/Farmer review
- encourage all employees to maintain a healthy workplace through mental health and wellbeing training or resources
- ensure that HR policies and practices recognise the needs of those with mental health conditions.
- Have a clear and well – communicated mental health wellbeing policy. Research suggests 80% of employees weren’t sure if their company had a mental health wellbeing policy. An organisation may open itself to a claim for compensation by failing to respond appropriately to an employee with a mental health issue.
What hasn’t changed?
The new guidance doesn’t replace any existing guidance for employers on first aid at work. Provision of care within the workplace is not intended to replace professional mental health care or therapy. The Mental Health First Aid courses do not enable an individual to act as a mental health professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist.
There is existing guidance and regulations around stress in the workplace, in addition to this latest guidance. For example, HSE guidance for stress in the workplace state that employees have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. This can also reduce the incidence and negative impact of mental ill health.
Is having mental health first aiders a legal requirement?
Having Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace is a recommendation, not legislation, so there is no set date when workplaces must have sufficient mental health provision.
Employers need to treat mental health in a similar way to physical health. Employers are encouraged to take steps to consider employees’ mental health to provide a safe working environment. Workplaces could undertake a needs assessment and put in place strategies to address any risks and needs highlighted.
How many mental health first aiders do you need?
The impact of poor mental health in the workplace
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental illness each year. In 2016, 15.8 million UK work days were lost due to mental illness.*
The largest causes of sickness absence for our country’s workforce are depression, stress, and anxiety. Mental illness costs UK businesses around £35 billion every year. This equates to:
- £10.6 billion lost to sickness absence,
- £21.2 billion in reduced productivity,
- £3.1 billion in substituting employees members who vacate their roles due to mental illness.**
Benefits of training employees to hold ‘Mental Health First Aid’ Certification
Independent research and evaluation shows that taking part in a Mental Health First Aid course:
- raises awareness of mental illnesses,
- encourages early intervention to aid recovery,
- increases confidence in dealing with mental illnesses
- reduces stigma around mental health issues.
In the workplace, there is still a great deal of ignorance around mental health issues. Many people are uncertain about how to recognise mental illness, and unsure about how to react when faced with it. They might also unwittingly exhibit stigmatising behaviours and attitudes. This means that those in need of mental health help and support do not receive it.
By becoming more informed and aware, managers and employees will be able to more easily spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and provide the right support.
Someone with poor mental health may not realise it. Even if they do, they may be reluctant to seek help, or might not know where to turn for care. For an employee experiencing a mental health issue, your organisation’s informed and supportive response is likely to lead to a much more beneficial outcome.
Research suggests that improving UK workplace mental health management could reduce employers’ losses attributed to mental illness by 30%, collectively saving £8 billion a year.***
Mental health first aid training with St John Ambulance (SJA)
St John Ambulance are the nation’s largest first aid training provider, delivering quality training courses that enable thousands of people to save lives. We’re using our extensive training experience in collaboration with Mental Health First Aid England to deliver internationally recognised mental health first aid courses to improve society’s ability to support mental illness.