How many first aiders does your business need?
Posted on 31st Jan, 2019 | By Lorretta Tatham
When there is an accident or medical emergency, first aid can make the difference between an inconvenience and a disaster. When there are minor injuries, first aiders provide prompt attention, minimising the disruption and mess created. This makes first aiders essential to every business – a legal requirement, in fact! However, you don’t want or need everyone to be trained this way. How many first aiders does your business need?
The regulatory requirements
According to the first aid regulations issued in 1981, employers must provide adequate first aid equipment appropriate to the workplace, first aid facilities and first aiders. The problem here is that “adequate and appropriate” is vague. An industrial facility prone to accidents probably needs more first aiders than the average office. The solution here is to perform a risk assessment to determine what would be considered the appropriate number of qualified personnel.
The personalised solution – the risk assessment
One factor in this equation is the size of your workforce. The more workers you have, the more first aiders you need. The HSE recommends that you have at least 1 first aider per 50 employees, even in low risk environments, but note that there is no minimum number required by law. The law requires businesses to be able to provide immediate attention when an employee is ill or injured, and the right number of trained people to meet that expected need should be seen as the legal minimum.
Note that this regulation applies to every workplace, including those with less than five people. This means that a remote office with only four people will need at least one person trained in first aid.
You need to take into account everyone else who may be on the premises. The regulations don’t require provision for first aid for the general public, but the HSE recommends that you do so. If you have a lot of visitors or contractors on site, provide adequate coverage for their needs.
Another factor is the risk in the workplace. As the risk of injuries and the severity of injuries increases, so does the need for qualified first aiders. Construction sites and maintenance workers are at greater risk of injury. On top of that, first aiders must complete a first aid course that meets the standards set by the HSE.
The impact of people working at home
One of the interesting situations that arise from the law is that those who are working at home are considered employees covered by the law. If an employee is regularly driving long distances, or travelling a lot for work for instance, then a risk assessment may find they need to carry a first aid kit in their vehicle and be trained in its proper use so that they are considered provisioned.
When self-employed people or remote workers who typically work at home are visiting the company’s premises, the business should have the ability to render first aid to them if required. In order to avoid confusion, the HSE recommends having written agreements to determine which employer will take responsibility for first aid for contractors and subcontractors on site.
The government doesn’t have a straightforward equation to determine how many people on site must be trained in first aid. Instead, you’ll have to use your judgement and risk assessment based on how your workforce is distributed, the risks they face, and what risks your business is willing to take on.
Here at Browns Safety, we’re committed to safeguarding the physical health of both you and your employees, no matter what industry you work in. We offer a number of safety courses to help you mitigate risks at work. One of the most universally helpful is our first aid at work course – you can choose between our 1 day or 3 day variant. To book your place, you can use the on-site form, or simply give us a call on 01282 615517.