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Last updated: 27.08.19

First aid policy and procedures in the workplace

As with most elements of workplace health and safety, the effectiveness of a first aid response to an incident is only as good as the policy and procedure that has been put in place beforehand.

Accidents are thankfully fairly rare in most workplaces, but some are riskier than others, and thousands of people are still injured each and every year, requiring some form of first aid attention. If you feel as an employer or responsible person that you need to know a little more about first aid policy and procedure at work, then this article is for you.

What does the law say?

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 are the important bits of legislation that you need to be aware of in this regard. These regulations place a responsibility on employers to provide adequate resources, including equipment, personnel, facilities and training to those who are injured while at work. All employers need to be aware of this, and there is theoretically no minimum business size for this law to apply.

However, these regulations do not go into explicit detail about what is specifically appropriate for your workplace, which means that employers will need to determine how they can best meet their legal obligations. The Health and Safety Executive does provide plenty of guidance in this regard, but there are few hard and fast rules. In the next section we’re going to take a quick look at deciding what first aid policy and procedure you might need.

Assessing need

There are three main things you’re going to need from a first aid standpoint; a suitable first aid kit, personnel to be responsible for health and safety, and information for employees about whatever arrangements you’ve put in place. However, you can only decide this once you’ve carried out an assessment.

Some of the things to think about will include the following:

  • Hazards - Is the place of work particularly hazardous? This will have a large impact on what kind of training you might need and how many first aiders there should be. A small office with few hazards might only need a first aid kit and someone responsible for first aid, whereas a production factory might need several first aiders and kits in every room.
  • Employees - The number of employees that you need to cater for is important. As a rough rule the HSE doesn’t require first aiders if there are fewer than five employees, but once there are 25 or more, you’ll need at least one for every 100 employees.
  • Accidents - If there have been regular incidents in the past, then this is a very likely sign that you need more first aid provision of all kinds.
  • Working arrangements - Is there anything else about the working environment that you need to think about? For example, if many members of staff work different shifts throughout a 24 hour period rather than 9-5, you might need additional trained staff.

Implementing policy and procedure

Once you’ve carried out your risk assessment, you can implement the necessary policy and procedure. Your first job will be to ensure that you have the right number of first aid kits, in the right locations, with the right contents. These are readily available. You’ll then most likely need to think about whether you need any training for yourself or other employees when it comes to first aid. You might need fully qualified first aiders, but you may only need someone who has basic training in things like CPR.

The primary survey is a good option for those who don’t need qualified first aider training. This procedure can be learned easily online, and helps people to deal with the scene of an accident. Visit the Virtual College course page here.


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