In the event of injury or sudden illness, failure to provide first aid could result in a person's death. The employer should therefore ensure that an employee who is injured or taken ill at work receives immediate attention.
HSE (Health & Safety Executive) will prosecute in cases where there is a significant risk, a disregard for established standards or persistent poor compliance with the law. More information can be found in the Health and Safety Commission's Enforcement Policy Statement.
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work. These regulations apply to all workplaces including those with five or fewer employees and to the self-employed. Detailed information can be found in the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance: First aid at work. The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 L74.
What is adequate will depend on the circumstances in the workplace. This includes whether trained first aiders are needed, what should be included in a first aid box and if a first aid room is needed. Employers should carry out an assessment of first aid needs to determine this.
The regulations do not place a legal obligation on employers to make first aid provision for non-employees such as the public or children in schools.
However, HSE strongly recommends that non-empoyees are included in a first aid needs assessment and that provision is made for them.
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 equipment, facilities and personnel should be provided.
Let us answer some basic questions about first aid provision at work - aimed at employers in small and medium-sized enterprises, but may be useful to all employers, managers and others involved in first aid.
What is first aid at work?:
People at work can suffer injuries or fall ill. It doesn't matter whether the injury or the illness is caused by the work they do or not. What is important is that they receive immediate attention and that an ambulance is called in serious cases. First aid at work covers the arrangements you must make to ensure this happens. It can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones.
So what do I need to do?:
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to your employees if they are injured or become ill at work. What is adequate and appropriate will depend on the circumstances in your workplace and you should assess what your first aid needs are. The minimum first-aid provision on any work site is:
1. a suitably stocked first-aid box (see below);
2. an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements.
It is also important to remember that accidents can happen at any time. First-aid provision needs to be available at all times people are at work.
What should I consider when assessing first-aid needs?:
Many small firms will only need to make the minimum first-aid provision. However, there are factors which might maker greater provision necessary. The "First Aid at Work - Your Questions Answered" leaflet on the HSE website covers the points that you should consider.
What should I put in the first-aid box?:
There is no standard list of items to put in a first-aid box. It depends on what you assess the needs are. However, as a guide, and where there is no special risk in the workplace, a minimum stock of first-aid items would be:
1 x leaflet giving general guidance on first aid;
20 x individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings (assorted sizes);
2 sterile eye pads;
4 x individually wrapped triangular bandages (preferably sterile);
6 x safety pins;
6 x medium-sized (approx. 12cm x 12cm) individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings;
2 x large (approx. 18cm x 18cm) individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings;
1 x pair of disposable gloves;
6 x wipes.
You should not keep medicines or tablets in a first-aid box. The above is a suggested contents list only; equivalent but different items will be considered acceptable. (Source: HSE Legislation & HSE First Aid at Work).
BHTA Guidelines are based on the HSE guidance, but offer 3 sizes of First Aid Kit for different hazard level situations. 10, 20 and 50 person kits are indicated for those numbers of people in average hazard conditions of work. These should be adjusted in accordance with risk assessments.