Have you asked yourself this question – How many first aiders do I need?
It is practically impossible to assume correctly the exact number of first aiders that will be appropriate for your workplace. To get this right, you need to carry out FIRST AID NEED ASSESSMENT.
The findings of your first-aid needs assessment will help you answer the question – “How many first aiders do I need”.
There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.
A First Aid Needs Assessment should consider the following topics:
- The nature of the work, the hazards and the risks
- The nature of the workforce
- The organisation’s history of accidents and illness
- The needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
- Work patterns such as shift work
- The distribution of the workforce
- The remoteness of the site from emergency medical services
- Employees working on shared or multi-occupied sites
- Annual leave and other absences of first aiders
- First-aid provision for non-employees
- The size of the organisation
The nature of the work, the hazards and the risks
One of the more complicated areas of the new first aid needs assessment is considering ‘the nature of the work, the hazards and the risks’. You should consider the risks and identify what possible injuries could occur in order to ensure sufficient first aid provision is available.
The Nature of the Workforce
You should consider the needs and health of all workers and ensure that first aiders are available and trained to deal with specific health needs. You should consider things such as:
- The Young
- The Elderly
- Specific health problems (such as heart conditions, asthma, diabetes etc.)
The Organisation’s History of Accidents and Illness
You should look at the organisations history of accidents and illness to try and identify any needs or trends that may influence the location or type of first aider. Different levels of provision may be required in different areas of the workplace.
The Needs of Travelling, Remote and Lone Workers
First Aid should be available wherever people work so you may need to consider providing personal first aid kits or training to travelling, remote or lone workers.
Work Patterns Such as Shift Work
Adequate first aid cover should be available whenever people are at work. There may be circumstances when a higher level of cover is needed when less people are at work, such as overnight maintenance work in a normally low risk environment.
The Distribution of the Workforce
First Aiders should be able to reach the scene of an incident quickly. Consider extra first aiders on large sites, sites with multiple buildings or buildings with multiple floors.
Remoteness to the site from Emergency Medical Services
If the workplace is remote from emergency medical services you may need to make special transport arrangements should an incident occur. Consider how employees will summon help – do they have access to a phone?
Even in urban areas you should be aware that it often takes more than 10 minutes for an ambulance crew to reach a casualty, so the correct provision of first aid is a vital link in reducing the effects of illness or injury.
Employees Working on Shared or Multi-Occupied Sites
On shared work sites it may be possible to share first aid provision, such as the security team providing first aid cover at a large shopping centre. It is important to fully exchange details of the hazards and risks so that adequate first aid cover is provided. Make agreements in writing to avoid misunderstandings.
Annual leave and other foreseeable absences
You should ensure that adequate first aid cover is available at all times, including when a first aider is on annual leave, a training course, a lunch break or other foreseeable absences. This generally means that workplaces need more than one first aider to ensure that cover is maintained.
If your first aid needs assessment identifies the need for a ‘First Aider at Work’ (18 hour course), it is not acceptable to provide an ‘Emergency First Aider at Work’ (6 hour course) to cover foreseeable absences.
You should also consider what cover is needed for non-planned absences such as sick leave.
Read Also: The need for first aid in schools
First Aid Provision for Non-Employees
The HSE recommend that you include non-employees in your first aid needs assessment. You should consider the duty of care that you assume when a non-employee visits your site. This is particularly relevant if you provide a service for others such as schools, places of entertainment, shops etc. Consider both the injuries and illnesses that could occur.
For large events such as concerts, organisers have a duty of care to ensure that adequate medical, ambulance and first aid cover is available. Organisers of such events should refer to The Event Safety Guide, published by HSE books, for further information.
The Size of the Organisation
The number of people on a site should no longer be the primary basis for determining first aid needs; all the areas of the new first aid needs assessment should be carefully considered. However, in general terms the larger your organisation is, the more first aiders you will need.
After identifying the locations / times that first aid cover is needed, the HSE recommend:
- That ‘non-manual’, low risk workplaces (such as shops, offices, libraries) have a minimum
- That ‘manual’ workplaces (light assembly work, warehousing, food processing or higher risks), have a minimum of one first aider on duty at all times per 50 people (or part thereof).
Workplaces with more than 50 people:
It is likely that if your workplace is large you will have already identified the need for full FAW (18 hour) training for your first aiders; but in any case, due to the increased probability of illness and injury occurring in larger workplaces, the HSE recommend that full FAW (18 hour) training is provided in workplaces with 50 or more people.
Reviewing the First Aid Needs Assessment
You should review your first aid needs from time to time, particularly if you have operational changes in your workplace. It is recommended that a record is kept of incidents dealt with by first aiders to assist in this process.
Annual Refresher Training
Due to the wealth of evidence on the severity of ‘first aid skill fade’, the HSE now recommend that all First Aiders attend annual refresher training.
Can legal action be taken against first-aiders?
It is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first-aider using the first-aid training they have received. HSE cannot give any specific advice on this issue as it does not fall within HSE’s statutory powers.
It is recommended that you seek legal advice, or advice from your employer’s insurance brokers on whether their policies cover first-aiders’ liability.
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