The purpose of first aid is to care for the injury or illness of an individual, with the intention to put them at ease and to prevent any further discomfort. The UK Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 requires employers in the UK to ensure that there is adequate equipment, facilities and personnel to conduct first aid in the workplace. In the workplace there should be designated first aiders who have completed first aid training and are able to administer first aid effectively. Knowledge and training of how to conduct first aid appropriately in the workplace is of the utmost importance.
What is first aid?
First aid is the immediate medical care given to an injured or ill individual until they are well or until full medical treatment arrives.
First aid can be daunting, and therefore it is important for those responsible for first aid in the workplace to undertake appropriate training.
First aid can involve some of the following actions:
- Tending to cuts
- Helping with minor headaches/flu symptoms
- Administering CPR
- Bandaging a wound
- Applying a sling to a fractured bone
What is the purpose of first aid?
If an individual in your workplace feels unwell or encounters an injury, they will need help, and the purpose of first aid is to administer and help an individual in this circumstance.
In your workplace there should be designated individuals who are responsible for administering first aid. They will be qualified first aiders, who have taken a first aid training course which is specific to their type of workplace environment.
As a first aider you need to be able to assess a range of different situations. If someone falls and cuts their arm, it's your responsibility to identify the extent of the injury, and to subsequently clean, bandage and tend to the injury.
If the injury or illness is beyond your capability, first aid can be used as an immediate measure until further medical assistance arrives, such as an ambulance.
In January 2017, Mr Paul Smith, director of Trueline Engineering Services Ltd, was prosecuted following an incident where one of his employees fell from height at a site in Cheshire. Mr Smith's employee was working on a partially erected tower scaffold, which had not been protected with any form of health and safety measures.
The HSE investigation found that there was no handrail or mid rail to protect employees from falling, which constitutes a disregard for UK health and safety standards. The HSE concluded that the poor health and safety standards constituted a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Moreover, Mr Smith failed to report the incident of an employee falling from height to the HSE, and therefore Smith also breached the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.
Consequently, the HSE was awarded £2,500.00 for successfully investigating the poor health and safety standards of Mr Smith's organisation, which resulted in the injury of an employee. This is an example of an organisation failing to understand the purpose of health and safety and its importance in the workplace.
Knowledge and training of first aid in the workplace is essential as it demonstrates the employer's care and commitment to protecting employees. If a medical emergency does occur, assistance will be available and the safety of everyone in the workplace will be maintained as far as possible.