- What do I need to put in (and what shouldn’t be in) a first aid kit?
The best practice guide for the content of a first aid kit is BS 8599-1:2011 Workplace first aid kits Part 1: Specification for the contents of workplace first aid kits. This suggests that the content of a first aid kit should be:
- Guidance leaflet
- Contents list
- Medium sterile dressing
- Large sterile dressing
- Triangular bandage
- Safety pins
- Eye pad sterile dressing
- Sterile adhesive dressings
- Alcohol free moist cleansing wipes
- Adhesive tape
- Nitrile disposable gloves
- Finger sterile dressing
- Resuscitation face shield
- Foil blanket
- Eye wash
- Burn dressing
- Conforming bandage
This is a minimum standard, and other materials should be considered. For example, saline and gauze for cleaning cuts or safety shears (for cutting bandage or clothing). There are many other recommendations for inclusion, such as on www.nhs.uk.
- Should we have a defibrillator?
The Resuscitation Council UK and the British Heart Foundation have published guidance on Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).
Whilst this guidance does not specifically recommend having an AED on site, it is made clear that cardiac arrest is a leading cause of premature death and that immediate treatment saves lives.
An AED is no longer a huge expense and, whilst it should be properly maintained (under the Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations, as well as basic common sense), they are simple to use and First Aiders are an obvious group to operate the equipment. Resuscitation Council UK guidance allows an AED in a public place (e.g. a railway station) to be operated by anyone using the audiovisual instructions from the AED, even if they are untrained in the use of AEDs.
- What are the legal requirements for first aid?
The legal requirements for the provision of first aid are outlined in The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, which were last amended in 2013. There is a useful summary of the legislation with guidance notes on the HSE website.
The act requires an employer to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work, regardless of whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do. The provision must be “adequate and appropriate” based on a risk assessment undertaken by the employer, which takes account of the hazards and risks in the workplace.
If the risk assessment leads the employer to provide first aiders in the workplace, they should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first-aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. Typically, first-aiders will hold a valid certificate of competence in either first aid at work (FAW) or emergency first aid at work (EFAW).
Employers have a duty to notify employees about first aid arrangements.
Whilst these are the minimum legal requirements, some professions and workplaces may have specific codes of practice, guidance or regulation that apply.
- Should I do the one-day Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training, or the three-day First Aid at Work (FAW) course?
The syllabus for both the three-day FAW and one-day EFAW courses are agreed throughout the industry, so it shouldn’t matter which provider you use. The course content is explained in our pages on FAW and EFAW.
The critical differences between the courses are that the EFAW course provides motor skills, whereas the FAW course provides recognition of signs and symptoms. So the FAW course includes, for example, recognition of the symptoms of a heart attack, the signs and symptoms of allergic reaction and the signs and symptoms of stroke.
An employer will decide on the most appropriate course to cover the first aid requirements for their staff, and this will be directed by their risk assessment.
- I work with children up to and including 5 year olds; do I need the 12 hour or 6 hour paediatric first aid course?
The current guidance for those caring for children up to and including 5 years old can be found in the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage. To fulfil the requirements of the framework, those requiring registration on the Early Years Register should follow the 12 hour course, whilst those on the voluntary register or not requiring registration, can follow the 6 hour course if they feel that this is appropriate (guidance on registration can be found here). However, the framework is clear that “Paediatric first aid training must be relevant for workers caring for young children and where relevant, babies; providers should take into account the number of children, staff and layout of premises”.
In other words, the level of training and the number of people to be trained depends on your own risk assessment.