We don’t often think of the office as being a particularly dangerous space - and thankfully for the most part it isn’t. Offices are generally one of the safest working environments for employees in the UK, which is one of the reasons that many people are unfortunately only vaguely familiar with the first aid policy. Think about it - do you know who your first aider is, or where the first aid kit is located? Do you know what to do in a first aid situation? If you’re a manager or owner, do you think that everyone in the office knows the answer to these questions? Worse still, do you even have a trained first aider present? There’s a good chance that this isn’t the case. Let’s take a look at why training is so important.
Firstly; the law. The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require that all employers ensure that they’re providing adequate equipment, facilities and personnel to respond to accidents, injuries and illnesses when they happen at work. This applies to all businesses of all sizes, including those that are self employed.
What the law does not do is go into specific detail about what’s required for each business. Guidelines are left to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), but generally it’s up to you as a business owner or manager to determine what’s appropriate. Bear in mind of course that if it’s found that your first aid provisions are inadequate, you could be hit with punishments under the law.
In short, it’s the law to have appropriate training where necessary, and the office environment may well mandate that.
Unlike warehouses and production facilities, offices rarely contain any dangerous equipment, which means that injuries are thankfully quite rare. Similarly, activities do not usually pose much of a risk. As a result, it’s not always necessary to have a designated first aider. However, that does not mean that training isn’t needed. It’s important to note at this stage that there are different types of first aid training. There’s accredited first aid training that makes someone a qualified first aider, and there are other types of training that are intended more to give individuals certain skills to help them in a first aid situation. For example you might have training in CPR or how to put someone in the recovery position. Not everyone necessarily needs this training, and if there’s no designated first aider, then it may be the case that one individual undertakes less in-depth training. This person is generally known as an ‘appointed person’. It’s usually their responsibility to look after things such as the first aid box and its contents, as well as calling the emergency services in the case of a severe injury or illness.
If we think about the office again in a little more detail, it becomes more and more apparent that some degree of first aid training might be useful, whether for a qualified first aider or more introductory knowledge. People can injure themselves when carrying heavy objects such as boxes, they can cut themselves with knives in the office, or they can even potentially receive an electric shock from IT equipment or lighting. There’s also illnesses to think about, and of course allergic reactions. While the office may be generally safe, there’s certainly a case for some first aid knowledge.
The benefits of having a first aider, or those trained to deal with minor injuries and ailments are very clear. Minor injuries can be more easily dealt with within the office, without individuals having to leave to receive attention elsewhere. This can save valuable time and get individuals back working. Similarly, it can help ensure that smaller injuries don’t become major ones. And workers that feel as though they’re being looked after are generally happier and more loyal too.
At the most serious end of the scale, first aid training can save lives. In the case of a severe illness such as a major allergic reaction or heart attack, the swiftness of response can be critical, and first aiders and those trained for CPR can be crucial.
In order to become a recognised and qualified first aider, a person must undergo an accredited course that results in them having the qualifications to deliver first aid. This is a practical session which is given by a trained instructor, and it’s something that needs to be renewed. This level of training is not essential for everyone, but it is required in order to be a designated first aider.
As previously mentioned however, there are plenty of first aid-related courses that may still be useful in the office environment. The primary survey is an informed response to a first aid scenario that anyone with the knowledge can follow. If you don’t have a designated first aider on the premises, it can be a very useful information to know, and indeed is suitable for any individual that wants to know how to respond properly to a critical situation. Click here to find out more about the course on the subject as offered by Virtual College.
It’s worth noting that informal training can be very useful too, particularly for new starters. Any member of staff with the knowledge can lead a short training session that explains who the first aider is, who the ‘appointed person’ is, where the first aid box is located, and more.