First aid is a valuable skill for both employers and their employees. It can mean the difference between life and death in serious situations of accident or illness, but it’s also beneficial for everyday injuries that can occur in just about any workplace.
The law requires that all first aiders are properly trained, which makes the training process a big consideration for businesses. Many people will therefore wonder how long first aid certification lasts. The answer is not entirely straightforward, and it helps to understand a little context first.
In this article, we take a look at what the law says about renewing a first aid certificate, the different kinds of training, and how best to ensure first aiders have their training kept up to date.
The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) takes first aid very seriously. There are published guidelines available on the government website that explain exactly what every employer must take into account and what their responsibilities are when it comes to first aid and providing first aid training
These guidelines include things like risk assessments, the provision of first aid equipment, and the training of designated first aiders. We’ll take a quick look here at the subject of first aiders.
The main point to be aware of is that the law does not specifically mandate the number of first aiders that a business must have on the premises. A business must make sure that they have taken adequate measures for all aspects of first aid for their business and their premises, but there are no hard and fast rules.
For example, a small office of five people might not need a qualified first aider, but a carpentry workshop of the same size probably will need one. Much of the decision-making is left up to the business itself, based on the work that is done on the premises, the level of risk and the potential hazards that are present.
However, this doesn’t mean a business can be lax when it comes to first aid. It could still be found to have broken the law if adequate first aid provision isn’t made, which is why providing training and keeping first aid training up to date is so important
In order to answer how often you should renew a first aid certificate, it must be made clear that there are various types of first aid training. The type of first aid training that is undertaken will heavily influence how often certification must be renewed.
To be regarded as a qualified first aider, a person must have undertaken one of the recognised and accredited courses and been awarded a first aid certificate. In most instances, this will be either an Emergency First Aid at Work course (EFAW) or a First Aid at Work (FAW).
Without one of these qualifications, an employee cannot be a designated first aider. If a business conducts a risk assessment in line with the HSE’s recommendations and decides it needs one or more first aiders, then one of these courses must be taken by the designated person/people.
Businesses can decide for themselves whether or not they need a designated first aider, so they can decide to have someone whose role it is to organise first aid for the business. They may not need a fully recognised first aid course, but there are nonetheless many types of training that they can choose to give a basic understanding of how to deal with a first aid situation.
These knowledge-based, shorter courses are low cost and not time intensive, so are ideal for businesses that have low first aid requirements or would like multiple staff to have an understanding.
To get a first aid certificate and become a qualified first aider, you need to complete a first aid training course. The most common types of these courses are either a First Aid at Work or an Emergency First Aid at Work course, which both help to ensure that you are compliant with workplace health and safety legislation which means someone on the premises can administer first aid if needed.
First aid courses usually take less than a day to complete, and you often get a first aid certificate on the day that you undertake the training. You have to pass the course to get a certificate, which will often involve a written assessment and a practical demonstration of what you’ve learned.
There are a range of different providers that offer a first aid course with a certificate. You can undertake these training courses either online or in person, depending on your availability and your preferred conditions for learning.
Virtual College offers an online ‘First Aid at Work: Primary Survey’ training course that can be completed in 1 hour and is CPD Certified, which is ideal if you’re looking for a general first aid training course for your employees or colleagues.
If you’re an employee that needs to receive first aid training for work, your employer should organise this and will be able to tell you where to get a first aid certificate. First aid training might be organised for the whole team in your workplace, or you might be sent the link to an online course or booked onto an in-person training course during your working hours.
Emergency First Aid at Work courses (EFAW) and First Aid at Work courses (FAW) are valid for 3 years from the date that they’re taken. This means that to stay within the law, they must be renewed within that period.
However, while the certification expires after three years, the general advice is that refresher courses should be taken after the first and second years to ensure that skills and knowledge are up-to-date and effective. These refresher courses are usually only around 3 hours long.
Now that you know you need to renew your first aid certificate at least every three years, you’re likely wondering how you actually go about doing this.
The best way to renew your certification is to undertake another full first aid course. You may have followed HSE’s guidance and done refresher courses each year to consolidate your learning, but after three years you’ll need to complete the whole course again.
Some training providers also offer first aid renewal courses which are designed to be done every three years after you have undertaken an initial first aid training course. These will cover all the same topics as your initial first aid training, but are designed for people that already have a background in first aid so may move through the content slightly faster.
Yes, a first aid certificate does expire. To ensure that first aiders are up to date on the latest guidance and that they haven’t forgotten any of their training, first aid certificates expire after three years and require you to complete another course to retain your certification.
The way that a first aid certificate looks will depend on the provider that issued it. They usually include the name of the company running and/or accrediting the course, the name of the person that has completed the course, the date the course was completed and the signature of the person that has been assessing the first aid training.
A paediatric first aid course is similar to a regular first aid course, but focuses specifically on how you should administer first aid to babies and children in situations like choking, bleeding, unconsciousness or seizures. The first aid certification also lasts for three year, but again you are recommended to take a refresher course every year to stay up to date.
Renewing your first aid certificate through a first aid refresher course is incredibly important when it comes to ensuring that you are qualified to handle an emergency first aid situation. First aid advice is regularly updated as new information is confirmed or processes are approved, and without keeping your certificate updated you will miss out on this crucial information.
Organising first aid certificate renewal also helps to keep first aid advice fresh in your brain so that it is easy to use if the situation calls for it. Many first aiders only have to use their training once or twice a year, but in a serious situation it could be used to save a life, so it is incredibly important to keep up to date.
If you’re looking for workplace first aid training, we offer an online ‘First Aid at Work’ course that is an ideal way for employers to keep their employees updated on valuable basic first aid. Alternatively, take a look at our health and safety section to see more of the courses we offer that are designed to help businesses with their training needs.