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First Aid Training - Are You Legal?

Written by -
Dr Dennis Ferriday
Sunday, June 14, 2020
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First Aid is important because employers have a legal duty under The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 to provide first aid cover for their employees. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 states that:

“An employer shall provide or ensure that there are provided such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to employees if they are injured or become ill at work”.

When thinking about providing first aid cover for your employees there are three things you need to consider. The first is ensuring that you have an adequate number of first aiders available. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who are responsible for overseeing first aid in the UK, recommends that you undertake a first aid needs assessment to determine the number of first aiders you need. You can get advice on how to do this at the HSE website.

The second thing to consider is that you also have a legal duty to provide any equipment for your first aiders to use as identified by your first aid needs assessment. Although there is no specific legal requirement for the contents of the first aid kit, HSE advise that it should meet a minimum standard and it is generally a good idea to get a kit that meets the British Standard BS 8599-1:2019.

Finally, you need to make sure that your first aiders are adequately trained. It is the training of first aiders that I want to cover here, as the requirements for training have fundamentally changed over the last few years. On 1st October 2013 the HSE stopped approving first aid training providers and placed the onus of ensuring that the training provider was providing competent training to the employer. HSE state that a competent training provider should be able to demonstrate certain criteria. These criteria include:

  • the qualifications expected of trainers and assessors;
  • monitoring quality assurance systems that a training company has in place;
  • teaching and standards of first-aid practice;
  • syllabus content;
  • the information included on a certificate.

Choosing Your Supplier

So to stay legal it is very important that you are sure that the training provider you use meets these criteria and is therefore competent. How best to achieve this? HSE has provided a guidance document “Selecting a First-Aid Training Provider – A Guide for Employers” to help you. It basically boils down to taking one of three options:

  • The first option is to use one of the Voluntary Aid Societies. If you use one of these organisations you will not need to take any further actions as the HSE has deemed them to be competent training providers.
  • The second option is to use a training provider who offers regulated qualifications. Regulated qualifications are delivered by training providers who are recognised by a regulated ‘awarding organisation’ (AO). These AOs are regulated by the qualification regulators (Ofqual, SQA or the Welsh Government) against standards for the design, delivery and award of qualifications. There are now a number of AOs for first aid certification, including the Highfield Qualifications. If your training provider offers regulated certification then HSE accepts that you have exercised appropriate due diligence. Promet is recognised by the Highfield Qualifications.
  • The third and last option is to provide first-aid training in-house or use a training provider that does not offer regulated certification. If you choose this option you must ensure that the training is fit for purpose by checking that certain criteria are met. HSE have produced guidance and a checklist for the employer to complete if they take this option. The guidance checklist can be found on pages 3 -7 of HSE Guidance document “Selecting a First-Aid Training Provider – A Guide For Employers”. If you have a look at the checklist you can see that the assessment is both detailed and could be quite difficult to complete adequately. Due to these difficulties, less employers have taken this option and indeed none of our clients have done so. It is important to understand that by choosing this option the onus is on the employer to audit the training supplier to ensure the training meets the criteria above.

You are not required to formalise or write down the checks you carry out when choosing a training provider, but it may be useful for you to retain some written records. By documenting the checks you have undertaken to confirm the competence of a training provider and by retaining a record of those steps, you can demonstrate to an employee, a safety representative, HSE or a local authority inspector how you selected your training provider.

So the first two options make it much easier for you to meet your legal requirements and satisfy the HSE that you are acting appropriately, but remember if you select the second option you must make sure that your training provider is awarding regulated certificates from one of the recognised AOs. This is easy to do as the first aid certificate issued by your training provider will make reference to one of the qualification regulators or you could look up the AO at the appropriate qualification regulators website.

First aid isn't particularly sexy, but getting it right is really important, both to keep you legal, but much more importantly to make sure that your employees can get the treatment they need (particularly in life or death situations). Issues with first aid often come to light only after a serious accident, injury or death of an employee. In some cases this leads to prosecution by the HSE and often large payouts when the employee or their relatives take legal action against the company. So why not just spend a few minutes and have a look at your first aid training provider to make sure they are competent and you are on the right side of the law.

If you need any help in finding the right supplier for you please get in touch.

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