First Aid in the Workplace
28 April 2023
Under Irish Health and Safety Law (Chapter 2 of Part 7 of the General Application Regulations 2007), employers have a responsibility to make sure that the First Aid arrangements in the workplace are sufficient. First Aid can mean anything from providing a treatment of minor injuries (e.g., minor cuts) to treatment of life threatening injuries (e.g., heart attack). First Aid is immediate treatment given to save life and stop conditions getting worse. The First Aid in a workplace setting is usually referred to as Occupational First Aid.
When the First Aid is in question, the employer must:
- Carry out an assessment to decide where, how many and what type of First Aiders are needed.
- Provide First Aid training and refresher training where required.
- Provide sufficient First Aid Kits and equipment for the workplace.
- Make sure all staff are aware of how and where to get First Aid treatment.
The First Aid Risk Assessment will help to decide what type of First Aid materials and/or equipment is required. In addition, it will also tell us how many if any First Aiders are required. The number of the First Aiders will depend on the size of the organisation and any specific hazards in the workplace. In some cases, fully equipped and stocked First Aid rooms must be provided.
Assessing Needs for Provision of First Aid in the Workplace
All employers must carry out a First Aid needs assessment that should consider:
- The nature of the work and workplace hazards and risks.
- The size of the organisation.
- The nature of the workplace.
- The organisation’s history of accidents and illness.
- The needs of travelling, remote and lone workers.
- Work patterns such as shift work.
- The distribution of the workforce.
- The remoteness of the site from emergency medical services.
- Employees working on shared or multi-occupied sites.
- Annual leave and other absences of First Aiders
- First Aid provision for non-employees (visitors, clients, etc.).
Considering the nature of the work and workplace hazards and risks can be complicated areas of the First Aid needs assessment. For example, the employer should evaluate risks associated with the workplace and possible injuries related to these risks. These should be then evaluated against type of First Aid treatment that may be required:
- Manual Handling – fractures, lacerations, sprains and strains.
- Slips, Trips and Falls – fractures, sprains and strains, lacerations.
- Use of Machinery – crush injuries, amputations, fractures, lacerations and eye injuries.
- Working at Height – head injuries, loss of consciousness, spinal injury, fractures, sprains and strains.
- Chemicals – poisoning, loss of consciousness, burns and eye injuries.
- Electricity – electric shock and burns.
- Workplace Transport – crush injuries, fractures, sprains and strains and spinal injuries.
The completed Assessment will provide a broad indication of the numbers of Occupational First Aiders that should be provided in different circumstances.
Recommended Numbers of Occupational First Aiders
After the Risk Assessment has been completed (as a part of the Safety Statement), it will identify the need for the Occupational First Aiders. It is very rare that the Assessments identify that first aiders are not required. The exact numbers of First Aiders in majority of workplace settings can be determined as follows:
- Up to 99 employees present at any one time – 1 First Aider present at all times if Safety Statement and Risk Assessment shows it to be necessary.
- 100 – 399 – 1 First Aider must be present at all times.
- 400 – 699 – 2 First Aiders must be present at all times.
- More than 700 – 1 additional First Aider for every 300 employees or part therof.
These numbers should be doubled, however, if the workplace is more than 1 hour away from the professional medical assistance. In addition, some other workplaces such as factories, construction sites, surface mines and quarries, and underground mines have different First Aiders numbers requirements. These are outlined in Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 – Chapter 2 of Part 7: First-Aid.
It is important to remember that the First Aider must be present on site at all times. For example, if the First aider is on holiday, they must be replaced by another First Aider.
Training of First Aiders
The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) First Aid Response (FAR) training standard is the recognised standard for Occupational First Aid in the workplace. Whilst the numbers of required First Aiders as listed in a previous section are recommended, the employers are always encouraged to train as many as possible employees in the First Aid. The initial First Aid training takes 3 full days classroom delivery and the Certification is valid for 2 years. After 2 years, a 2 day refresher classroom delivery can be completed. Successful completion of a refresher training is valid for 2 years. However, it is always recommended to refresh First Aid training knowledge on a more often regular basis.
There is a wealth of evidence on the severity of first-aid skill-fade. To prevent this, online training is a convenient and user friendly way to keep first-aid skill-memory up to date. eLearn Safety offers fully online First Aid relevant courses, such as Common Medical Emergencies: Asthma, Medical Emergencies: Heart Attack, and Paediatric First Aid just to name a few.
Whilst some workplaces require having fully trained Occupational First Aiders on site, other employees can be trained to a lower level of skill in first-aid (e.g. Basic First Aid, CFR-C, etc.).
Online Health and Safety Training
Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.
Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.
This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.
Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.
To find out more, please check our Courses page.
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