When an emergency happens in the workplace, an efficient and well-organised plan, coupled with first aid training, can save lives.
This isn’t an overstatement. Emergency first aid training requirements in the workplace, when properly drilled, reduce reaction times, help employees to focus on the situation, and can ensure that the emergency services arrive as quickly as possible. All of this means that those who need help get it as fast as possible under difficult circumstances.
First aid planning at work is not something which can be ignored. The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 place a responsibility on employers to provide adequate first-aid resources in the workplace, which includes equipment, trained and designated first aiders, first aid facilities and training courses for any employees that need or want them.
In this article, we take you through all the things you need to consider when it comes to first aid planning at work, helping you to feel more prepared in the event of an emergency.
Before any planning can begin, your first step should be setting up a first aid assessment of your workplace.
Start by organising an assessment of all the risks faced across the working day by each individual employee, taking into account their physical activities and their position in the workplace. You can conduct this risk assessment yourself or you can appoint someone else responsible and competent to do it.
A first aid risk assessment should highlight situations where employees may require first aid. This might involve unpredictable situations such as choking, fainting or heart attacks, and may also involve instances where their responsibilities or the workplace environment pose a risk that might lead to first aid being needed. For example, if employees work in a warehouse alongside machinery then this machinery poses a risk and could lead to injuries that require first aid.
If possible, this risk assessment should involve asking your employees to take a look at the risks they come into contact with in their role, since they will be the expert in that area. This also makes it easier to categorise which risks impact the most people and therefore which scenarios need to be prepared for first.
A useful tip for this risk assessment is to take a look at the history of injuries in the workplace. This will let you know about the kinds of first aid incidents that have happened in the past and highlight any recurring ones that require more immediate first aid planning.
After you’ve identified common scenarios where first aid may be required, the next step is to consider the placement of first aiders and first aid kits at work. This ensures that where an accident might occur, first aid equipment and trained personnel are never too far away.
First aid training may be required to make sure that there are enough qualified first aiders to properly respond to potential workplace accidents. This may require looking at work schedules and training additional first aiders to cover multiple shifts in a day, for example.
Finally, you should assess the workplace from an emergency services standpoint. Consider how far the nearest fire station and hospital are and how long it might take for an emergency services vehicle to reach your workplace. If you work in a remote location, consider how alternative forms of transport, such as medical aid by helicopter, might best be facilitated.
Taking into account your first aid assessment, the next step in workplace first aid planning is coming up with an emergency procedure plan as part of your first aid policy in the workplace, to cover as many of the identified risks as possible. This plan can then be used in emergency health and safety situations so that employees know what to do and can react quickly and efficiently.
Organising first aid and alerting the appropriate emergency service should be the highest priority, so these should appear first in the plan. Qualified first aiders should be identified and their likely location should be noted down so that other employees know where to find them if first aid is required. There might be one designated first aider each day, but you should also list backup first aiders in case this individual can’t be reached.
You should place a first aid kit at the centre of the workplace as part of your plan and in reach of the first aiders. In high-risk workplaces, consider whether employees and/or first aiders can carry a small first aid kit with them at all times.
Your first aid emergency plan should cover all of the potential scenarios that you identified in your risk assessment. From minor cuts and scrapes to incidents where an ambulance needs to be called, each of these should have a clear plan of action for employees to follow.
Where possible, you should display the details of these emergency procedure plans around your workplace. This can be in the form of posters, signs, or an emergency manual that every employee has access to.
An essential part of your first aid emergency response plan is to make sure that records are kept in a first aid record book of any incident in the workplace that requires first aid. This makes it easier to update your first aid plan if something happens that you weren’t prepared for, but also gives you a record of what first aid was administered and any additional necessary procedures, which may be required in more serious health and safety incidents.
An emergency procedure plan is worth very little if none of your employees know about it. It may also be redundant if nobody in your workplace knows how to administer first aid, which is why you need to ensure that first aid training at work is provided to the relevant employees.
First aid training is one of the most important parts of ensuring health and safety at work. For a helpful, comprehensive and informative training course, perfect for workplace training sessions, be sure to take a look at our ‘First Aid at Work’ online course. Covering many of the main proponents of first aid, this program covers vital skills including knowing how to respond when you’re first on the scene of an accident, how to carry out the primary assessment, and how to put someone in the recovery position.
Designated first aiders need to complete an official ‘First Aid at Work’ or ‘Emergency First Aid at Work’ course depending on the level of risk present at work, which should be retaken every three years to keep employees up-to-date. These first aid at work courses can be completed online or in person, and can be organised in your workplace if you have enough staff requiring training.
Along with official first aid training, you need to brief your employees on your emergency first aid procedure and let them know where they can find copies of the plan. Remember that no one can ever be too informed when it comes to first aid planning, so be sure to recap this regularly and include it in your onboarding process when a new member of staff joins your organisation.
As a final point, set up a process to ensure that regular tests are carried out to check for any mistakes in the first aid plan. These tests are also helpful in evaluating the performance of the plan, allowing you to make changes where necessary to keep your emergency first aid procedures in the workplace up to date.
Employers’ legal duties regarding first aid come from The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, which make it the responsibility of the employer to keep their staff safe at work. This involves taking the necessary steps to make the workplace safe, providing appropriate safety equipment and PPE, and organising first aid training at work so that staff know how to respond in emergencies.
The minimum provisions that a workplace needs to meet health and safety regulations are a basic first aid kit, a qualified first aider and accessible first aid and health and safety information. Low-risk workplaces like offices will likely only need these things, whilst more dangerous places of work will have other minimum health and safety requirements outlined by other specific laws.
First aid is important in the workplace because it provides employees with the information and training needed to deal with minor injuries themselves. It also provides guidance on what to do in more serious health and safety situations so that everyone can be kept safe and the right course of action can be followed as fast as possible.
Having a workplace first aid plan is important because it gives employees something to refer to in situations where first aid is required and ensures that the necessary provisions are in place to deal with health and safety issues. This plan is also proof that you have taken the necessary steps to keep your staff safe and comply with workplace first aid regulations, leaving no room for doubt that you’re being a responsible employer.
Different workplaces have different levels of risk, so it’s possible that you’ll develop a first aid plan that never actually gets used, especially if employees do very low-risk jobs. However, in the event of an emergency, having a plan in place can make a huge difference in how quickly help is found and necessary first aid in the workplace is administered, which helps to keep employees safe from permanent harm.
If you’re looking for first aid training or support, we offer a range of online first aid training courses that can help prepare you for all kinds of situations.