Companies have a legal obligation to have a First Aid at Work policy.

As an employer in the UK regardless of the size of your company you have a legal obligation to plan for the provision of first aid at work. Should an accident happen and you do not have correct first aid cover not only may you be liable for prosecution but you may also invalidate your insurance. A Health and Safety Executive report showed that an estimated 629,000 workers had an accident at work in 2013/2014.

First Aid Regulations 1981

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the subsequent Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, an employer is under a statutory duty to provide first-aiders in the workplace for the benefit of their employees.  These first-aiders must undergo training to an approved standard in a specified list of competencies.

Depending on the size and the nature of your company you may not need a fully trained first aider, but in this case, someone needs to be appointed to take charge of first aid.

When you assess your company’s first aid requirements you should consider the following:

  • whether a designated first aider is required;
  • potential hazards in the workplace;
  • the size of the company in terms of people and area;
  • previous accidents and illnesses;
  • hours of working and shift patterns;
  • the location of employees during working hours (on or off-site);
  • the distance to emergency services;
  • Potential visitors to the workplace.

However, some companies will have specific legislation regarding their first aid requirements for example – diving and offshore work and the construction industry.

First Aid Requirements Calculator

If you are unsure of your first aid requirements click on Safe and Sound’s First Aid calculator.

It is also recommended that companies consider purchasing a defibrillator.  Around 5% of all Sudden Cardiac Arrests (SCA’s) occur in the workplace  – that’s around 100 a week.

For every minute of delay from the onset of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) to defibrillation, the chances of survival diminish by 10%. After 10 minutes the chances of survival are almost zero. Defibrillation needs to occur within the first 4 – 6 minutes after this brain damage sets in.  Unfortunately, the average response time of the emergency services in the UK is 10 minutes or longer. So access to a defibrillator becomes absolutely vital.

One paramedic I spoke to recently said he was shocked at the low level of AED provision in the workplace. He would like to see them placed in strategic places as are fire extinguishers. “We are called out for more SCA’s in the workplace than we are for fires,” he said. It really should be seen as an essential provision in the workplace.

Safe and Sound first Aid at Work Training Courses include the use of AED’s on all their courses.