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  • How to improve first aid in the workplace Mar 7, 2018


    While none of us like to think about it, we are constantly at risk from any number of maladies. While most won’t come to pass, it is worth catering for every possible eventuality, and having a first aid policy that can tackle illness and injuries as they arise.

    Despite this, many small and even large businesses fail to cater adequately for first aid. Regardless of how risky your daily operations are, there are a number of steps you should and could be taking to guarantee your safety, and potentially even save lives.

    Mandatory minimums

    ‘Adequate and appropriate’ provisions, including first aid equipment, rooms and trained personnel. There are very few specific legislative requirements in regards to what you should have or in what quantity, Instead it falls to the business owner to decide what is proportionate, and to fall broadly in line with the HSE’s guidelines.

    For low hazard businesses with fewer than 25 employees, this usually takes the form of a single ‘appointed person’ to take charge in emergency situations. This person should ideally have accredited first aid training, but again, this is not a necessity.

    In addition, the HSE expects that you maintain a ‘well stocked’ first aid kit, with items including bandages, plasters, dressings, gloves and eye patches. These guidelines also apply to higher hazard businesses (e.g. engineering, food processing or manufacturing) with five or fewer employees.

    Low risk businesses with 25-50 employees should have at least one Emergency First Aid At Work (EFAW) trained first aider. High risk businesses with 5-50 employees should have a first aider trained in either First Aid At Work (FAW) or EFAW, depending on the nature of the work being carried out.

    Businesses with more than 50 employees should have a FAW trained first aider for every 100 or 50 employees, respectively. Depending on the nature and size of your business, you may be expected to have a dedicated first aid room with relevant supplies.

    You are not strictly required to accomodate members of the public, even if they regularly visit your facility. That said, the HSE does strongly advise that you factor them into your health & safety policy. This may also depend on footfall, as well as the nature of your clientele.

    First aid training

    While there is not necessarily an obligation to have a trained first aider, we strongly recommend it. Emergencies can occur regardless of the size of your workplace, or the kinds of work you engage in. Better too to overprovide with no serious injuries or illness than to have underprovided, and suddenly find that you are unequipped for an emergency.

    Having an employee on hand who can not just control the situation but also administer treatment ahead of the emergency services could be the difference between life and death. This is particularly pertinent given that ambulances are currently stretched, as well as the merging of some hospital services, meaning longer trips to A&E.

    There are a number of ways to obtain first aid training. The most common is to receive nationally recognised training from an accredited training provider. These will commonly bear the mark of Ofqual (England), the SQA (Scotland) or the Welsh Government.

    The most common forms of first aid training are the L3 QA Awards in Emergency First Aid At Work and First Aid At Work, respectively. The recommended level of training for first aid providers is Level 3, with the course depending on the nature of work in your business. Applicants are not generally required to have completed another first aid qualification before taking Level 3 training.

    Changes by the HSE in 2013 were designed to offer more flexibility for first aid training to employers. You may now also receive valid training from voluntary aid societies, individuals or enterprises acting under voluntary accreditation, and independent training providers. However, you are also now responsible for carrying out due diligence to ensure the legitimacy of their training.

    Accredited training providers avoid this process of due diligence on the part of the employer. You can choose an Ofqual or equivalent qualification safe in the knowledge that the training is valid, quality assured, and offered by qualified and competent trainers.

    Other ways to improve first aid

    While it is not a requirement, it’s strongly recommended that you designate a first aid room if you have space within your facility. This should be a first aid room only, too - we’ve seen more than a few supposed ‘first aid rooms’ that have actually been repurposed for storage, left in a poor condition, or left inaccessible when they’re needed most.

    The ideal first aid room is easily accessible from the most trafficked areas of the facility, and within relatively easy reach of the exits. The space should be bright with natural light if possible, while ensuring that the contents are well protected from the elements.

    It should be well stocked with relevant provisions, too - if you don’t know what these would be, conduct a risk assessment. Consider all of the things that could feasibly happen to employees, and look at how you could mitigate the risks. Then, in planning for the worst case scenario, include provisions to help treat resultant injuries and illness.

    One substantial provision that’s of benefit to any workplace is a defibrillator. Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are now available for under £1000, and represent a potentially life saving investment. At present, just 8% of cardiac arrest victims outside of a hospital survive in the UK. Statistics show that the effective use of a defibrillator and CPR in the event of cardiac arrest can increase survival chances to as much as 74%.

    For this reason, first aid training to at least a basic level is highly beneficial for all employees, or at least a substantive proportion. One of the benefits of an AED however is that it is extremely simple to operate. While most defibrillators will offer instructions as to how to use them, AEDs operate largely automatically, administering treatment at the right time for the victim.


    Ultimately, the best thing you can do to improve safety in your workplace is to be aware of the HSE’s recommendations, and to agitate for change. Securing first aid training and a well equipped first aid room represent the ideal scenario - but the most important step is to ensure that first aid awareness permeates your organisation, and influences decision making at the highest levels.

    Lee Sadd is a senior trainer at health & safety consultant and training provider SAMS Ltd. SAMS is a leading provider of online safety courses and classroom courses in the Kent area, as well as offering business advisory services and event management solutions around the UK.
  • What you need to know about ISO 45001 Feb 28, 2018


    After five years of deliberation involving members from hundreds of countries, the latest occupational health & safety (OHS) framework, ISO 45001, has finally been approved. A three-year transition period will be enacted from March, allowing for businesses with and without older frameworks to register and migrate to the new standard.

    For those businesses currently using the British OHSAS 18001 standard - or those who have less understanding of the ISO standards and certification process - this may all be a bit baffling. Here then is a simple breakdown of the changes implemented by the switch to ISO 45001.

    What are ISO standards?

    ISO 45001 has been drafted by the International Organisation For Standardisation (ISO). ISO standards are designed to provide shared policy frameworks to organisations, helping them improve their own operational efficiency and efficacy in a number of different areas.

    Businesses around the globe use ISO standards to implement frameworks for quality control, information security, safety, energy efficiency and more. They are often implemented to satisfy tenders and acquire new supply chains, and are a requisite of many contracts.

    To be fully compliant with ISO standards, you have to gain certification. Gaining ISO certification ensures that your business is operating to certain well defined, globally relevant and extensively researched standards, helping you to succeed and to build trust with other businesses.

    What is ISO 45001?

    ISO 45001 is the first global OHS standard for organisations, drafted and implemented by the ISO after five years of discussion. It provides a universal framework - in other words, a set of rules and instructions - for all businesses concerned with their own occupational health & safety.

    As with most ISO standards, ISO 45001 can be implemented by businesses of any size, and ISO encourages all businesses to do so. It lays out a modern, responsive set of health & safety policies and approaches, designed to integrate into the core of the business’ objectives and meld with other standards.

    ISO 45001 is the first ever global safety standard, and has been specifically to supplant a number of local standards. For UK businesses, this means that it will replace the popular current standard, OHSAS 18001. Businesses currently applying this standard may require assistance to migrate to the new standard and to retrain employees.

    What does ISO 45001 change?

    ISO 45001 is designed to modernise a business’ approach to occupational health & safety, putting it at the core of overarching policy decisions. It utilises the Annex SL guideline to help integrate OHS with other standards, including quality and environmental management.

    ISO 45001 is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model, simplifying risk planning and accentuating the importance of reporting and minimising risks. It also shifts focus slightly to grant more importance to long term health issues, rather than more evident short term injuries.

    Worker wellness and wellbeing are given much more prominence as a key element of health & safety management. The delegation of OHS is also disincentivised, with C-suite and managers encouraged to take on responsibility for health & safety and integrate it into their business plans.

    Workers are also more involved with health & safety under ISO 45001. Workers and their representatives are actively involved in consultation and reporting, are engaged in controlling risks, and are given a more substantial role in dictating company policy on health & safety.

    The rights of workers have also been enhanced in the new framework. This includes the right of workers to identify risks and remove themselves from the situation without penalty, before reporting said risk to the organisation. The obligations of organisations to provide a safe working environment have also been enhanced.

    Finally, the burden of responsibility when it comes to breaches of H&S laws and guidelines has been clarified. This comes into particular focus with outsourcing, procurement and contractors, where the organisation should now be expected to demonstrate the control of risk.


    ISO 45001 is a rigorous but sensible standard, and its application has been hard fought. It is also a momentous occasion, however, marking the first time any such OHS standard has been accepted and applied globally. Safer businesses tend to be happier and more effective businesses, and the worldwide uptake of ISO 45001 should ultimately be good news for everyone.

    Lee Sadd is a senior trainer at health & safety consultant and training provider SAMS Ltd. SAMS is a leading provider of online safety courses and classroom courses in the Kent area, as well as offering business advisory services and event management solutions around the UK.