Workplace First Aid: Rules

People at work can suffer injuries or fall ill at any time – suddenly. What is important is that they receive immediate and appropriate attention. First aid covers the arrangements that should be made to ensure that happens. It can prevent minor injuries becoming major ones and can even save lives.

What Should I do?

Health and safety regulations require you to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be administered if one of your employees suffers an accident or injury or becomes unwell at work. Although different working environments have different needs, the minimum first aid provision in any work site should include:

  • A suitably stocked and maintained First Aid Box which, though it can differ from workplace to workplace, should include at least: two dozen wrapped sterile adhesive dressings in assorted sizes, two sterile eye pads, four individually wrapped triangular bandages, six safety pins, six medium sized and two large sized individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings and a pair of disposable gloves.
  • An appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements
  • Around the clock quick access to the first aid equipment and a person who can administer first aid as accidents can happen at any time

What is an Appointed Person?

An appointed person is one an employer chooses to:

  • Take charge when someone is injured or falls ill, including calling an ambulance, if required
  • Keep stock of the first aid box and replenish supplies when needed
  • Be available at all times that people are working on site – this can sometimes mean more than one person has to be appointed

What is a First-Aider?

A first-aider is someone who has undergone a training course in administering first aid and holds a current first aid at work certificate. Sometimes more than one is needed and they can also take on the role of the appointed person in some cases.

What Should I Consider When Assessing First Aid Needs?

  • You are required by law to make an Assessment of Significant Risks in your workplace and assess the risks of potential injury and ill health. If the risks are significant, you may need to appoint several first-aiders.
  • You need to assess whether there any specific risks such as Working with Hazardous Substances, dangerous tools or machinery etc., which may need you to consider specific training for first-aiders, extra first aid equipment and precise location of the equipment.
  • If there are different parts of your workplace which present different degrees of risk, you will probably need to make different provisions for the various areas of the establishment.
  • You should ask yourself what is your record of accidents and ill health, what type are they and where did they happen which may lead you to review the location of the first aid box and to review its contents.
  • If employees have disabilities or other special health problems, this, once again, may lead you to review the contents of the first aid box.
  • If your premises are spread out over different floors and buildings, adequate provision must be made for all locations.
  • If there is shift work or out of hours working, you need to ensure you have enough first-aiders as provision must be made for all hours in which your business operates.
  • If your workplace is remote from quick access to the emergency services, you may need to inform the emergency services of your location and consider special arrangements in order to access these as quickly as possible.
  • If you have employees who travel a lot or work alone, it may be worth considering issuing personal travel first aid kids and providing these staff members with training in how to use them.
  • If guests or other visitors come to your premises, you have no legal responsibilities for them but it is good practice to include them in your first aid provision.

Do I Have to do Anything Else?

You have to inform all your employees of your first aid arrangements. Putting up notices telling staff who the first aiders are and where they can be found as well as where the nearest first aid box is kept should be sufficient but remember to make special arrangements for those workers who have reading or language difficulties.

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