A first aider is someone who has undertaken appropriate training for the circumstances surrounding the medical emergency and is qualified to give first aid in the event of an injury or illness.
They must hold a valid certificate of competence in either:
1. First aid at work
2. Emergency first aid at work
3. Any other level of training or qualification that is appropriate to the space or circumstance
To help keep their first aid skills up to date, it is strongly recommended that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training. HSE strongly recommends this, over half a day, during any three-year certification period. Although this is not mandatory, this will help qualified first-aiders maintain their basic skills and keep up to date with any changes to first-aid procedures & processes.
First aid certificates show your competence and lasts for three years. Before these certificates expire, first-aiders will need to undertake a requalification course as appropriate, to obtain another three-year certificate. Once certificates have expired the first aider is no longer considered to be competent to act as a workplace first aider and these is because the learning and skills are continually updated.
How Many First-Aiders Does an Employer Need?
When assessing your first aid requirements, you might be wondering, ‘How many first aiders do I need?’. And truthfully, ‘it depends’. It depends because there are many aspects to it and it’s not just how many staff are in the workplace though this is important. Other things include:
1. The type of work being done
2. What shifts are available
3. The spread of your workplace, i.e., how big it is, how many floors etc.
4. The likelihood of an accident
5. The type of accidents that might happen and commonly happen
6. The number of visitors that come into the space
To add to that, there’s not just one type of first aider. There are three.
Types Of First Aiders
There are three main types of first aider.
1. The appointed person (AP) isn’t strictly a first aider, but has first aid responsibilities and some first aid knowledge. This role includes the responsibility of calling the emergency services when required and looking after first aid equipment and facilities.
2. The emergency first aider (EFA) has the practical and theoretical first aid training to handle emergencies. An emergency first aider is a first aider. They have undertaken training in Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training which is a one-day training.
3. The first aider (FA) has a higher level of first aid at work training and can handle a range of first aid emergencies and other specific injuries and illnesses. They have undertaken the full First Aid at Work (FAW) training which is a higher level 3-day training.
Does Your Workplace Need a First Aider?
You, the employer, is best placed to understand the exact nature of your workplace and decide what provisions are needed.
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 states that you must provide adequate and appropriate first aid coverage. For first aid provision to be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’, it means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times.
In order to decide what needs to be available, you should undertake a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place.
Once you have figured out how many first aiders you need, then you decide what type of first aider you need. If your workplace has more significant health and safety risks, for example you use machinery or hazardous materials then you are more likely to need a trained first-aider.
There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers, and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.