As an employer, you have certain obligations and responsibilities revolving around health and safety at work. One of the most important is how your company reacts to any employees that are hurt or taken ill at work. The HSE outlines in The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 that you must have good first aid provisions in place that allow you to treat any injured or ill employees straight away. This helps to minimise risks and can give your employees the instant treatment they need to stay safe until emergency services arrive.
How do you know what first aid provisions to make?
The HSE regulations simply state that you need first aid provisions in place, but it doesn’t detail what these should be. That is because no two businesses are the same. One company may need more registered first aiders than another or a wider variety of first aid kits. It all depends on the business in question, what type of work is carried out, and how many risks are present.
To figure out what your company must do, you need to complete a first aid needs assessment. This assessment will essentially let you look at your workplace and identify all the hazards and risks that are present to your employees. Upon filling this out, you should know what provisions will be deemed adequate enough for your company.
If you’ve never completed a first aid needs assessment before, then you probably have no idea how to get started or what to look for. Don’t worry, we’ve created this guide to help you complete this form and keep your business safe.
What should you look for when completing a first aid needs assessment?
To begin, you have to understand that your first aid needs assessment may conjure up entirely different results to someone else’s. Therefore, you can’t get away with finding another company’s assessment and using it to fuel your decisions. The most important thing to take into account is that you should only think about your business.
There are three main things that you will need to concern yourself with:
- Working environment
- Potential hazards/risks
With that in mind, here are a few questions you should ask to begin your assessment:
What type of work is carried out on your premises?
Ultimately, this becomes a crucial question as it influences so much about your first aid provisions. As a basic example, compare the simple tasks within an office to the work carried out on construction sites. The latter is far more dangerous than the former, resulting in increased daily risks for the workforce. Therefore, stricter provisions would be required to offer added protection against these risks.
Do you have a history of accidents or injuries?
Look back through your accident reports and see if you have a history of them at work. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it lets you know how hazardous your workplace is. If there has been a long history of accidents/injuries occurring frequently, then that tells you your premises are a high-risk area.
Secondly, it helps you identify any specific patterns. Are your employees getting injured in the same way? Do the same accidents keep happening? If they do, you can get specialist first aid provisions to help deal with them.
How many sites do you have?
Some businesses may only have one site. This could be an office, a retail outlet – you name it. Others may have multiple sites in different locations. As a result, you will need to conduct individual first aid needs assessments for each site. While the results may be similar, you still can’t apply a blanket approach to each site.
How many employees work at each site?
The number of employees you have will influence various first aid decisions – like how many registered first aiders you require, and how many kits are needed on site. Technically speaking, there are no legal requirements for this. As long as there is at least one person registered in first aid, then you’re not breaking any laws.
However, the HSE has a few recommendations based on the number of employees in one location:
- Between 1-50 employees: at least one trained first aider
- More than 50 employees: at least one per 100 people for low-hazard and low-risk environments. This includes offices, shops, libraries, etc. However, there should be at least one per 50 people in higher-hazard workplaces
Naturally, your first aid needs assessment will help you figure out if you fall into the low or high-risk categories.
At Skills Training Group, we offer First Aid Training Courses that are FAIB accredited and can be delivered at your workplace. If you need to gain some qualified first-aiders for your business, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.
How experienced are your employees?
Experience plays a significant role in determining how ‘safe’ your work environment is. Primarily, experienced employees present fewer risks than inexperienced ones. This is on the basis that inexperienced employees may be in situations that they’ve never been in before, so aren’t sure how to react.
Put it this way, who is at more risk in this scenario:
A distribution warehouse with two employees that are lifting boxes from the floor onto a delivery truck.
It stands to reason that the experienced employee has done this before, so knows the proper lifting technique and understands how to prevent injuries. By contrast, the inexperienced one may use a lousy lifting technique and injure their back.
So, take experience into account as it will affect your first aid provisions.
What should you find after your first aid needs assessment?
If you’ve followed the assessment correctly, then you should easily pinpoint all the main problems within your workplace. As a result, you can now figure out what needs to be done to provide adequate first aid provisions. After answering the questions above, you will be able to identify the following:
- Risks within your workplace that can lead to injury or illness
- The severity of any risks in your workplace
- How frequent these risks present themselves
- How many first aiders your business will need – this will depend on how many employees you have, along with how hazardous your workplace is
- What you should put in your first aid kit – again, this depends on the risks in your workplace. Technically, there isn’t a rule that stipulates a first aid kit must require certain things; it all depends on what you think is appropriate.
Before we move on, two things can help with regards to first aid kits. If you are putting one together from scratch, the HSE has some useful guidelines and recommendations on what you can include.
Furthermore, you can buy ready-made first aid kits online. If you choose to do this, then it helps to look for the new BS 8599-1:2019 British Standard specification. There is no legal requirement to have a kit with this standard in place, but it does ensure that you’re getting a quality kit that lives up to high standards.
What happens next?
Based on your findings, you need to take action to provide your workplace with the best first aid provisions necessary. Effectively, you have three main tasks:
- Put together or source first aid kits
- Acquire first aiders
- Provide first aid information for your employees
We’ve already spoken about what needs to go into a first aid kit and that you can buy one online if you’d prefer. The number of kits on a premise is largely debated, but many people believe that one per first aider is enough.
As for your first aiders, we’ll remind you that we offer specialist first aid training courses that will provide your employees with the required qualifications. It’s a good idea to evenly distribute both first aid kits and first aiders throughout your site.
You should make your workforce aware of all the first aid provisions in place – and the specific first aid procedure. This includes the following:
- What to do if they get injured or feel ill at work
- Who the registered first aider is
- Where the first aid kits are
Reviewing your assessment
After your initial first aid needs assessment, you will have to go back and review it time after time. This is because your workplace can change, meaning different risks may present themselves or circumstances have been altered.
For example, you have new equipment on-site, more employees, etc.
The HSE doesn’t have any set regulations on how often your assessment should be reviewed and updated. But, a good rule of thumb is to review the situation whenever circumstances change in your company.
Hopefully, this guide has taught you how to complete a first aid needs assessment for your business. It’s a vital part of keeping your employees safe at work. Remember, every business can have different first aid demands. However, everyone will need at least one registered first aider on their premises at any given time. With that in mind, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re looking for excellent first aid training courses.