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The Importance of Work Place First Aid and Health & Safety Compliance
Posted by David Cant on September 17, 2012
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First aid provisions and training are critical to the safe running of any workplace and they are often enforced by law.

Of course in some particular industries, the need for staff first aid training and first aid supplies is greater; however it should still be a cause for concern for all organisations, regardless of the risk factor. Although naturally within high risk environments, extra diligence is required. High risk work place environments typically include:

  • Factories
  • Farms
  • Building sites
  • Mines
  • Schools and colleges
  • Fairgrounds/theme parks
  • Hospitals and nursing/care homes

All organisations have a duty of care towards their employees, customers and other visitors, and in accordance with the law, must take steps to effectively manage risk and highlight the first aid procedures to employees prior to encountering an incident.

First Aid For Emergencies & Helping With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

First aid is important from both the perspective of providing adequate care in case of an unexpected emergency as well as enabling individuals within the workplace to be competent enough to cope with the pre-existing conditions of employees, customers and visitors etc. Pre-existing conditions include angina, epilepsy, asthma and diabetes and it is advisable to invest in first aid training for staff in order to effectively manage in such situations should they arise.

Health and Safety Compliance with the Government

Governments enforce stringent health and safety legislation, meaning that in order to comply, organisations have to provide a certain degree of provision for health and safety and first aid within the workplace.

In the UK, health and safety across many industry sectors is governed by the ‘Health and Safety Executive’, who describe their job as ‘to prevent people being killed, injured or made ill by work’. Depending on where you are in the world and which industry you are working within, there is likely to be a specific body who can offer guidance.

First Aid In The Work Place

Within a workplace, a person or persons must be appointed as a health and safety officer, making them responsible for ensuring compliance among the organisation. For large scale businesses, there is likely to be an entire department of health and safety employees, or at least 1 dedicated staff member. However within a small business, the business owner and/or another member of staff are likely to take on the role in addition to their day to day duties.

Which Steps Must Be Taken To Ensure Health & Safety Compliance?

Initially, a health and safety policy must be written for the business. This will highlight how health and safety will be managed at work and will need to be communicated to your staff members to ensure their understanding of the policy. In the UK, for businesses with 5+ employees, the policy must take the form of written documentation.

The next critical step is that of risk assessment – identifying the potential risks that your workplace possesses. Once risks have been recognised, associated controls must be identified and implemented, meaning that you must document the measures which you will take in order to minimise the risk.

What Is A ‘Risk’?

Essentially, a risk is something which is a hazard to your employees. This could be the use of a specific chemical, working with machinery, a requirement to undertake heavy lifting duties, working alone or working at height etc.

It is also advised that businesses liaise with their employees when identifying risks and the measures to combat them. Training requirements can then be established and employees can be educated in accordance with their employer’s health and safety policy.

First Aid Provisions In The Work Place

In line with health and safety compliance, businesses must ensure that they make basic first aid provisions. Within the UK, this translates as having:

  • a well-stocked first aid kit
  • an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
  • information for employees regarding first aid arrangements in the workplace
  • OPTIONAL: a fully qualified first aider within the workplace (who has been certified by an external organisation)

First aid kits must be re-stocked regularly and any items which have reached their expiration date should be replenished.

What Should A First Aid Kit Contain?

There is no mandatory list of supplies required in order to comply with first aid obligations, however typical first aid supplies include:

Plasters, dressings and bandages (of assorted sizes)
Scissors and tweezers
Cleansing wipes
Sterile gloves
Safety pins
Ice packs
Eye pads

Does My Organisation Need To Provide A First Aid Room?

No, not all workplaces require a first aid room. High risk workplaces, especially those in the education or care sector for example, are very likely to have one. However, a first aid room is only required when the risk assessment has identified it as necessary. A low risk environment such as an office is unlikely to have one.

What If Someone Requires First Aid?

In accordance with UK health and safety law, a record must be kept of certain work related injuries, incidents and disease. Keeping stringent records will allow employers to identify patterns of accidents and injuries, enabling them to conduct a more informed risk assessment. If there is a work-related insurance claim, the insurance company will need to view the records.

To summarise, work place first aid and health and safety compliance is imperative to the welfare of employees, customers and visitors and steps must be taken to minimise their risk of accident or injury. In conjunction, there is a legal obligation to fulfil, ensuring that organisations always put safety above all else. And if a situation does arise, workplaces should be adequately prepared and equipped to manage that situation via the provision of first aid kits and trained individuals.

Author Bio: This guest post has been provided by Clark Medical Supplies, UK suppliers of medical products including first aid supplies.

About 

David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. Fluent in practical advice. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the Director of life at Veritas Consulting.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Guest Blogger

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