First-aiders at work: what are the employer’s obligations?
Accidents and injuries at work are a fact. Sometimes, it can take quite a while for the emergency medical personnel to arrive, which can be dangerous to the health of the injured employee. Hence the necessity of having a well-trained personnel on-site and a well-equipped first aid kit. Is there any obligation for the employer regarding the first aid at work? Are there any training requirements for the first-aiders?
Injuries and illnesses of employees at the workplace caused by work activity or other reasons should be treated rapidly. The failure of taking quick first aid actions could lead sometimes to severe injuries or even death.
The employer is legally obliged to provide a safe and healthy work environment to his workers. All over the world, laws and regulations exist to ensure the compliance and the implementation of measures for occupational safety and health (for example, Directive 1989/654/EEC for the European Union, the standard number 1910 Subpart K on medical and first aid of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States of America and The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulation 1981 in Great Britain). They usually offer guidelines for employers to assess their first aid needs and information on training requirements for first-aiders.
First aid needs assessment
First aid is the first assistance given to reduce injuries or illnesses at the work. It should be appropriate to the circumstances and conditions of the workplace.
First aid requirements are not the same everywhere. They vary from one workplace to another. The employer should make a thorough assessment of first aid needs. Multiple factors should be considered to determine the number of first aid kits, whether special equipment is required and training the personnel to become first-aiders.
The assessment comprises of:
- Nature of the work, location and size;
- Types of the risks, hazards and the possible type of the resulting injuries;
- Number of workers, their location (including subcontractors, contractors and volunteers) and if they have some certain disabilities;
- Working hours and patterns;
- Distance between the workplace and the nearest hospital/clinic;
- Old records of accidents/injuries in the company;
- Managing the absence and the replacement of the first-aiders during their leave of absence.
In addition to these elements, the employer should take into account the non-workers on site, such as client visits, inspectors in case of an audit, etc. Also when the nature of work involves handling chemical compounds/products, the supplier is obliged to provide information about the health effect of the product, the storage and use, the controls to reduce the exposure and the first aid required in case of an accident.
Once the assessment is done, the employer can decide the type of first aid kit needed for the workplace. Also, depending on the number of his workforce this will help him decide the number of first-aiders to train.
Sometimes, the employer can decide that a first-aider is not required. In that case, a person is appointed to be in charge of making the first aid arrangements and no training is needed for the appointed person. However, a first aid kit is always a necessity, even for self-employed workers.
Equipment and training for first-aiders
First aid equipment
Low-risk workplaces only require basic first aid kits, but high-risk workplaces could require additional specific equipment depending on the activity (for example, eyewash and shower, automated external defibrillators, etc).
The first aid kit should be regularly checked to ensure that the contents’ expiry date is not overdue and to replace the used ones.
In some facilities, first aid rooms are installed where only authorised personnel are allowed and the injured worker. The first aid room is a necessity only when the first aid needs assessment identifies its installment. Signs should be placed on all first aid kits and rooms, easily identified and accessible.
To conduct the first aid maneuvers, well-trained and certified personnel are required in each workplace: they are the first-aiders. The employer chooses his personnel to undergo specific and/or general training programmes. The choice of the person to train depends on certain factors, such as the ability to cope with stressful situations, reliability, good communications skills and the aptitude and ability to learn new skills and knowledge.
The first aid training programme is conducted by certified and registered training organisations. The training is chosen appropriately to the circumstances of the working environment and conditions. There are a large number of training bodies in each country. Therefore, the employer should choose carefully and must make sure that they are competent to deliver the training and that the trainers are qualified.
There are general training programmes for basic first aid at work and specific training, depending on the type of the work activity and the aimed certification (e.g. training on handling dangerous chemicals, asbestos, etc)
Certificates of basic first aid at work last for three years. The first-aider will need to undertake a requalification course and succeed to maintain his certification. But the renewal of some specialised first aid certification should be carried out annually, such as the adult CPR training.
Employers should keep track of first-aiders personnel and certification expiry dates to schedule their requalification and in some cases arrange for further training.
Informations for employees and Record keeping
Each employee, when recruited, gets to follow an internal security awareness programme to understand the risks of their activity and all the information about the first aid arrangements.
The employer is obliged to communicate all the necessary information on the first aid arrangements to all employees. Notices and signs are put in place informing employees of the appointed persons or the first-aiders in the workplace and the location of the first aid kit box. This information should be accessible and understandable by all the workers and if necessary make special arrangements for ones with reading and language difficulties.
When a worker is involved in an accident, the first-aider attends to his injuries. The employer should provide a form for the first aids to record every incident they attend to. The records are kept in the organisation in accordance with the data protection information (relevant for each country).
Usually the record includes:
- Date, time and place of the incident;
- Name and job title of the injured person;
- Details of the injury and the first aid given;
- The accident description;
- Name and signature of the first-aider.
Some incidents at work should be reported to the health and safety executive division of each country, depending on the consequences of the accident to the worker’s health.
The employer should always review his first aid arrangement. The continuous exchange of information between the employer and his employees on the work conditions is essential to maintain the first aid arrangements adequate and effective.
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How can digital help?
Assessing the first aid needs on a single intuitive platform can help you gain efficiency and time. All the information required about your company (location(s), size, number of employees, hazards, etc) are centralised and easily accessible. The hazards and risk assessment matrix can be automatically generated and directly conclude the type of resulting injuries.
In terms of training and first aid equipment, you can evaluate and compare the certifications bodies and the medical suppliers. This will allow you to choose the best and the most suited training programmes for your needs and the equipment/kit required for your first-aiders.
The digital platform can help you in keeping track of the expiry date of the first-aiders certifications by setting alarms and notifications to take action.
Moreover, the digital records forms can be used on smartphones/tablets. This will make the documentation of an incident easier and keep all the records stored in one place.
Finally, the employees can be informed and consult all the needed documentation about the first aid arrangement at any place and any time.
Fast reactions and good first aid maneuvers can save lives at work. Combining the first aid guidelines and necessity at work with a digital solution can help an employer with all the preparations needed to efficiently put in place the first aid requirements, personnel and equipment.
To go further:
> Insure your first aid needs with BlueKanGo’s digital platform and its app HR/OSH Management in Business (available on BueKanGo’s Marketplace)