First aid training is essential as it offers designated first aiders the appropriate skills and confidence to act if an injury or illness occurs in the workplace. The UK Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 requires employers in the UK to ensure there are effective and compliant first aiders in the workplace. If an organisation fails to comply with the necessary health and safety laws, the UK Health and Safety Executive has the power to investigate and prosecute the organisation. This could be severely damaging and therefore first aid training is essential.
What is first aid training?
First aid training teaches individuals how to identify injuries and illnesses effectively, and how to subsequently act appropriately.
First aid training should be conducted in accordance with your workplace environment. For example, if you work in a low-risk environment, such as an office, you will require low-risk first aid training. However, if you work on a construction site, then you will require high-risk first aid training as the nature of this workplace could result in severe injuries.
How does first aid training work?
First aid training will teach you how to perform life-saving skills, how to treat minor and severe injuries, and how to care for specific illnesses. Therefore, by the end of your first aid training, you should feel confident to deal with a range of potential illnesses and injuries in the workplace.
First aid training will teach you the following skills:
- Life-saving techniques, such as the Heimlich manoeuvre and CPR.
- How to deal with unconsciousness
- How to control bleeding
- How to control trauma
- How to use essential first aid equipment, such as a defibrillator.
- How to treat severe and minor injuries
- To identify and care for different illnesses
Who needs to be trained and why?
Those who have been designated as the responsible first aiders in the workplace will need to partake in first aid training. Depending on the size of your organisation, you might only need one trained and qualified first aider, or you might need to delegate more first aiders for a larger organisation.
When employees join a new organisation, they join with the expectation that the workplace environment is well equipped with first aiders and first aid facilities. If this is not the case, you can report the organisation to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The UK HSE are responsible for enforcing health and safety standards across UK organisations. If they become aware of an organisation that has not trained their first aiders appropriately, or who has not designated any first aiders in the workplace, the HSE can intervene.
Subsequently, the HSE will launch an investigation into the workplace. If the HSE notice a breach of first aid, they will issue the organisation with an improvement notice, stipulating the improvements which need to be made, such as sending first aiders to more first aid training.
If the breach is not rectified, the organisation will be issued with a prohibition notice, ordering it to cease work. A thorough investigation will take place and can result in the HSE prosecuting an organisation. Prosecution can lead to fines for an organisation's lack of compliance with health and safety.
Therefore, to avoid prosecution and fines from the HSE, it is important to organise first aid training for your designated first aiders in the workplace. First aid training will ensure that your health and safety procedures are compliant, and that your workplace is prepared for any illnesses or injuries which could arise.