Workplaces can be dangerous environments, especially where manual labour is required. Workshops, construction sites, and factories can all pose risks to the health of staff and workers. Although generally less hazardous, accidents can occur even in traditional office environments as well. When an incident occurs, quick and effective first aid is crucial for the wellbeing of those involved.
HSE Regulations and First Aid
When considering first aid, the first port of call for a business should be the HSE Regulations. The regulations state that an employer must assess the first aid needs of the organisation. Factors such as workplace hazards and the number of employees must be considered to determine what the first aid needs of the business are.
Regardless of the specific situation, there are some baseline rules which apply to any business or workspace:
- There must be a well-stocked, accessible first aid kit
- There must be a designated person or persons to take charge of first-aid arrangements
- Employees must be informed about the first-aid arrangements, for instance where the first aid kit can be found and who the designated person for first aid arrangements is
This is the bare minimum of what is required. Larger businesses that may have unique or severe hazards, as well as higher likelihoods for injury due to the nature or location of the work, will have more advanced first aid needs, which are laid out in the HSE regulations.
First Aid Kit Essentials
While there is no official regulation on what a properly supplied first aid kit should contain, both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the NHS recommend some basic items:
- A leaflet giving general guidance on first aid
- Sterile plasters of various sizes (preferably hypoallergenic)
- Sterile eye dressings
- Triangular bandages
- Safety pins
- Two large, unmedicated, individually wrapped wound dressings
- Six medium-sized, unmedicated, individually wrapped wound dressings
- At least three pairs of disposable gloves
- Crepe bandages
- Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
This is not an exhaustive list, and the full contents of a first aid kit should always be based upon your First Aid Needs Assessment, which may lead you to add equipment for injuries specific to your workplace, or to stock different quantities of certain equipment.
A first aid kit must be readily accessible to anyone who needs it. Used items must be promptly replaced, and medications should be regularly checked and replaced if they are expired.
Basics for Carrying Out First Aid at Work
It is always best to let someone with a First Aid qualification provide first aid. However, this is not always possible, in which case there are some simple steps that any person can follow which can help an injured or ill person. It is a good idea to have these steps printed out on a leaflet and kept with any first aid kit so that they are accessible to anyone who needs them.
The process of providing first aid is as follows:
- Danger – Check if the injured person or any others nearby are in active danger. If possible, remove them from this situation. An example would be to remove a person from a burning building/area.
- Response – Is the person conscious? Do they respond to your questions or when you squeeze their shoulder or touch their hands?
- Send for help – Call for an ambulance and provide them with any information they require. The number for the ambulance in the UK is 112, or 999. It is likely they will ask you for information and may tell you what to do next. In that case, follow their instructions.
- Airway – Is the person breathing? Is their airway clear? If the mouth is not clear, place the person on their side, open their mouth and clear the contents, then tilt the head back and check for breathing.
- CPR – If the person is unconscious and not breathing, perform CPR. Make sure they are flat on their back and then place the heel of one hand in the centre of their chest and your other hand on top. Press down firmly and smoothly (compressing to one-third of their chest depth) 30 times. Give two breaths. To get the breath in, tilt their head back gently by lifting their chin. Pinch their nostrils closed, place your open mouth firmly over their open mouth and blow firmly into their mouth. Repeat this until an ambulance arrives. Whilst this procedure can save a life, it often causes injury to person receiving CPR, so it is recommended that the first aider carrying it is First Aid certified.
An employee trained in First Aid can provide potentially life-saving care, and this is what Flexebee aims to achieve with our First Aid at Work training. On completion of this course, learners should know and be certified in the following:
- First aid health and safety regulations
- The examination of a casualty and further actions/treatments
- Treatment of unconsciousness, shock, bleeding, fractures, burns and scalds
- How to deal with heart attacks, eye injuries and general common illnesses
- Knowledge of basic life support
- How to use First aid kits and dressings
- Recording and reporting injuries
- Examination of a casualty
- How to do CPR
Care industry practitioners can discover first aid considerations for care homes and how to implement first aid with our blog First Aid for Care Home and Care Home Providers.