The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), carried out an evaluation of first aid in the workplace and found that although first aid awareness in workplaces was good, compliance was found to be more ‘in spirit’ rather than the letter of the regulations.
This brought to light some important deficiencies in the ‘format and content of guidance and in the proportionality of the current regulatory requirements for lower risk employees’. The changes have been developed in consultation with employers and training providers and it is hoped that the new format will make it easier for employers to comply with the regulations.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES?
From 1 October 2009, the current initial four day First Aid at Work (FAW) course will be shortened to three days and there will be a new qualification of Emergency First Aider in the Workplace (EFAW) that will require a one day training course.
EFAW training enables a first aider to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work.
FAW training includes EFAW and also equips the first aider to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illness. Employers should use the findings of their first aid needs assessment to help them decide whether first aiders should be trained in FAW or EFAW.
If the needs of the workplace require FAW trained first aiders to be provided, it is not an acceptable alternative to provide EFAW trained first aiders.
The FAW re-qualification remains unchanged at two days. The HSE will also strongly recommend that FAW and EFAW students attend an annual three hour annual refresher course to prevent ‘skills fade’.
Both the First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid in the Workplace courses will be approved by the HSE and must be taught by HSE approved first aid training providers.
Any current FAW certificates will remain valid until the expiry date even if this is after 1 October 2009.
On 1 April 2009 the HSE confirmed that the shorter First Aid at Work course will be similar to the current version in content, but will be covered in three days, not four, this doesn’t mean that you will learn less. Recent simplification of first aid protocols, including CPR and casualty movement, mean that less time is needed to teach these and other subjects.
The new training arrangements do not affect first aiders holding a valid FAW certificate obtained under the existing arrangements. However, where a first aider retrains on or after 1 October 2009, the new arrangements will apply.
HOW MANY FIRST AIDERS YOU NEED
Employers are required to carry out a risk assessment to decide on the numbers of first aiders required and the level of training needed.
When assessing your specific needs, you need to consider:
- Workplace hazards and risks
- The size of the organisation
- The organisation's accident history
- The nature and distribution of the workforce
- The remoteness of the site from emergency medical services
- The needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
- Employees working on shared or multi-occupied sites
- Annual leave and other absences of first aiders and appointed persons.
The HSE will provide updated guidance for employers on 1 October 2009 on how many first aiders will be needed depending on the size and nature of your organisation. However, it is up to each employer to maintain their risk assessment.
LEVEL OF RISK
Your risk assessment will highlight the level of risk in the workplace, using this information you will be able to decide what course is required for your first aiders.
Generally speaking, first aiders with a First Aid at Work certificate will be required in higher risk sites or places with a large workforce or high perceived level of risk; lower risk may only require Emergency First Aid in the Workplace trained staff, but this will dependant on other factors that a risk assessment will identify.