The aim of first aid is to reduce the effects of injury or illness at work.
Employers are duty-bound to make an assessment of first-aid needs, appropriate to the circumstances of each workplace.
This may include:
Nature of the work being undertaken, including hazards (power tools/ hazardous chemicals)
Nature of the workforce (male/female/young/old/disabled etc.)
Organizational history of accidents
Size of the organization
The needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
Work patterns (Shift work)
Distribution of the workforce
The remoteness of site/s from emergency medical services (e.g windfarm sites)
Employees working on shared sites (NB. employer are required by law to have their own first aiders)
Annual leave and other absences
Possible non-employee first aid (Theatres/sports events/ shopping malls)
Employers need to periodically review their first aid needs, particularly after any operational changes to ensure adequate provision remains appropriate. It is recommended that a record of accidents/ incidents is kept which have been treated by first-aiders and that a transparent policy regarding reporting is followed.
Incident/ Accident recording
An incident book is recommended to be kept to record incidents, which can be helpful to reference first aid carried out. It may also be helpful in insurance or investigative purposes, however, care must be taken to ensure that any incidents are kept in accordance with the General Data Protection Register 2018, as the record is a personal medical record.
Note that this incident book is not the same as an accident book, which is required to be kept under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1992, and the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Act 1992 where there are 10 or more employees working for an employer.
Where your first-aid assessment identifies the need for first aiders, employers need to ensure they are provided in sufficient numbers and at appropriate locations to enable first aid to be administered without delay should the occasion arise.
Where 25 or more people are employed, even in low-hazard environments, at least one such person should be provided.
But how many first-aiders are needed? This is where a needs assessment can help employers decide how many first-aiders are required. There are no hard and fast rules on actual required numbers as employers will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of their particular workplace as per “What is a needs assessment?” above.
Employers should take into account all relevant information to come to a decision on numbers.
When selecting someone to take up the role of a first-aider, a number of factors need to be taken into account, including an individual’s:
■ reliability, disposition and communication skills;
■ aptitude and ability to absorb new knowledge and learn new skills;
■ ability to cope with stressful and physically demanding emergency procedures;
■ normal duties, which should be such that they may be able to respond
Just because an individual WANTS to become a first aider, the employer needs to assess if they would be a suitable person. Just because they commence training, reputable organizations are not obliged to certify individuals who are obviously not suited to the role.