There is some significant confusion when it comes to the question: Do businesses need a first aider on-site? In fact, there is no clear cut, one size fits all answer for every type of business. Instead, your business must adhere to the recommendations issued by the HSE. A topic that you can get more detail on below. 

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An appointed person?

First of all, it is not necessary to have a qualified first aider on every site. However, every business needs a person appointed to take care of first aid arrangements. In fact, this is a requirement if your business is to conform to the 1981 First Aid Regulations. 

When to provide a qualified first aider?

However, what is not always so clear is whether your company actually needs to provide a qualified first aider on-site or not? The good news is that there is an easy way to determine whether this is the case. 

In fact, if your business rates as high-hazard in its first aid assessment, it is likely to need qualified first aiders. Something that ensures you, as the HSE puts it, ‘appropriately and adequately’ provide for the first aid needs of your employees. 

Of course, for some businesses, their first aid needs assessment will suggest that having more than one qualified first aider on site will be the best course of action. In fact, the HSE regulations suggest that establishing this is the responsibility of each individual business. 

Fortunately, you can make this process of establishing how many qualified first aiders you will require much more straightforward by considering the following factors: 

  • The level of hazard associated with your business. That is, office environments are, as a whole, likely to need less qualified first aiders than a high-hazard company like a construction site. 
  • Other issues that impact first aid provision. These can include things such as difficult to reach locations, absences, and even the number of employees you have that are inexperienced.
  • Previously occurring injuries, accidents, and incidents in the workplace. That is, if your business has a history of a particular type of incident happening, providing for it in the future is the responsible thing to do. 
  • The number of employees. The more employees you have, the more likely it is that you will need more qualified first aiders. 


What is a qualified first aider?

To become a qualified first aider, your chosen employees will need to complete the proper process. The most important part of this is the training they undertake. 

In fact, there are a range of workplace first aid training courses on offer. Such as the one-day emergency first aid at work course, or the longer and more comprehensive 3-day first aid at work course. A choice that should be made in line with the first aid assessment that you use to analyze your business’s risk level. 

That is, if you have a higher risk company such as one working with toxic chemicals, or heavy machinery, choosing the more comprehensive course is usually the best fit. Some providers will even create bespoke courses for companies that have particularly specific first aid needs. Something that can be particularly helpful if you have more than one high-level hazard or risk factor to contend with. 

Additionally, first aid at work certificates only last for three years. This means to comply with the 1981 first aid regulations, your chosen employees will need to complete a half-day refresher before their certification runs out. 


Consequences of not having a qualified first aider on site

In matters of health and safety and life and death, erring on the side of caution is always the wise choice to make. However, there are two main consequences of not providing a qualified first aider on site. The first is that you could be fined by the HSE who impose penalties if first aid provision is deemed to be inappropriate. This is something that can cost your company dearly. 

The second, though, is even more significant and distressing. It is the cost of human life and suffering that not providing a qualified first aider can cause. In fact, it’s not only that a first aider can reduce the suffering of an employee under your care involved in an incident that is important here. It’s also that someone trained and qualified in first aid may significantly improve, such as a person’s chance of survival. Literally making it an issue of life and death. 

To that, end the critical question that you need to ask yourself is, whether your business can genuinely afford to not have a qualified first aider on-site? 


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