Health and Safety

by Pete Fisher

First aid and accident reporting

The Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require an employer to provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and people to give immediate help to anyone injured or taken ill at work. Circumstances will determine what is ‘adequate and appropriate’ and employers should undertake a first-aid needs assessment to ensure that suitable provision is made.

The minimum first-aid provision is:

  • A suitably stocked first-aid kit
  • An appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
  • Information for employees about first-aid arrangements.

Therefore, it is good practice to display a recognisable notice in a prominent position, detailing where first aid can be obtained and who the first aiders are. First aid arrangements should form part of new staff induction training.

First aider

A ‘first aider’ is a named person (often a volunteer) who has received recognised training and holds a current first aid certificate:

  • First Aid at Work Certificate (FAW) – is a three-day practical course
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) – is a one-day basic course.

Appointed

An ‘appointed person’ is someone appointed to take charge of first-aid arrangements; this is the minimum requirement. The role of this appointed person includes looking after first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required.
An appointed person does not need first-aid training.

Management of first aid

Requirements for first aid provision at work depend largely on the hazards of the work being carried out. Employers should therefore ensure that a risk assessment is carried out to determine the level required.

The employer should ensure that the type of injuries and illness that may occur in their workplace can be dealt with by the level of first aid trained persons they provide.  For example, low risk occupations with relatively low numbers of staff may decide that an appointed perosn is adequate, or they may opt for first aiders trained to EFAW level, whilst higher risk occupations or large sites may opt for FAW trained first aiders, or a combination of both.

First aid equipment

First aid provisions should be readily available to each employee at all times while at work. On a worksite or an outdoor location, the first aid kit should be located as close as practicable to the work in progress.

First aid boxes

There is no mandatory list of items to put in a first-aid box, it depends on the outcome of the first aid needs assessment. 

The first aid box should be located in a prominent place with easy access and a sign to show its location. It is also good practice for first aiders to have their own first aid kit as a backup.

The first aid box should not contain any medication unless this specifically required, due to the nature of the risk, and the first aider has received training in its use.

The employer should nominate a person who will be responsible for checking each first aid box and replenishing the contents; these checks should be recorded.

First aiders

First aiders approved course for the required level of training (either First Aid at Work or Emergency First Aid at Work), following which they are examined and certificated.  Currently the certificate is valid for three years, after which they must be re-certified; it is strongly recommended that the First Aider attends an annual refresher course.

How many first aiders or appointed persons?

There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers, it depends on the size of the workforce and the activities being undertaken; a general guide is:

  • Low-hazard, e.g. offices, shops etc.

    • Less than 25 employees - at least one appointed person
    • 25-50 employees - at least one first-aider trained in EFAW
    • More than 50 employees - at least one first-aider trained in FAW for every 100 employed (or part thereof).
  • Higher-hazard, e.g. light engineering and assembly work, warehousing etc.

    • Less than 5 employees - at least one appointed person
    • 5-50 employees - at least one first-aider trained in EFAW or FAW depending on the type of injuries that might occur
    • More than 50 employees - at least one first-aider trained in FAW for every 50 employed (or part thereof).

It is common practice for security officers to be qualified in first aid; however, in an emergency they will have other duties and should not therefore count towards the basic provision of first aiders.

First aid for mobile employees

Managers are responsible for ensuring adequate first aid cover for all staff for whom they have line responsibility. First aid training or emergency first aid training should be offered to travelling staff, such as mobile engineers, sales representatives or delivery drivers.

First aid kits should be installed in all company vehicles. Staff who have to travel overseas on a regular basis may require additional equipment, and advice should be obtained from a qualified medical practitioner.

Accident reporting

Accidents and near-miss incidents (where there was fortunately no injury, though in the circumstances there might have been) must be reported and recorded to ensure that corrective actions are taken to prevent a recurrence and to establish an overall company accident record for trend analysis.

Typically, reported accidents will range from cuts and bruises to major injury. However, occupational illnesses, such as work-related stress, should also be recorded. Road traffic accidents or incidents that happen when travelling on company business must also be reported.

A standardised reporting form should be developed and made available in the workplace or on a company intranet. This should detail the person(s) involved, the time, date and location of the accident, what happened and the injury sustained. Depending on the nature and size of the business, companies may wish to capture other data or include staff personal numbers and so on – this will vary from company to company.

As a minimum, an Accident Book (BI 510) should be completed to comply with the minimum legal requirements for recording accidents at work. This is a generic document, however, and may not capture sufficient detail for a thorough investigation.

There must be a system in place for upward reporting of the accident, which should trigger management awareness and an investigation. Records should be analysed frequently to give feedback to senior management on performance, trends and proposals for improvement, where appropriate.

Accident investigation

A defined procedure for accident or incident investigation should be written into the Health and Safety Policy. (This could include accidents to home workers, visitors or the public.) The line manager of the injured person must act on all reports and take the appropriate action.

The depth of investigation required must be pre-determined and is generally a function of the seriousness of the incident. In other words, a paper cut will require very little follow-up, whereas a full and detailed investigation must be undertaken for a major injury.

The line manager may be assisted by other employees, such as the health and safety adviser, when conducting the investigation, which should involve

  • An examination of the accident scene and equipment involved
  • Statements from the injured person and witnesses
  • Risk assessments, method statements and manufacturer’s instructions
  • Focus on how and why the accident occurred and not apportioning blame
  • Photographs, measurements and so on that may assist others to comprehend the report.

A written report should follow the investigation, providing answers to the following questions:

  • What was the immediate cause of the accident?
  • What, if any, were the contributory causes?
  • What corrective actions are necessary?
  • What systems, procedures or training should be amended?
  • What reviews of policy or risk assessment are required?

In some situations, the enforcing authority may conduct their own investigation; however, this does not negate the need for an internal investigation by management.

RIDDOR

The Reporting of Injuries Dangerous Diseases and Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) place a statutory duty to report certain injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences to the enforcing authority.

Someone must be nominated to make the report, which can now be made by telephone or on line at www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/report.htm.

Detailed below are some of the categories included in RIDDOR. The list is not fully comprehensive and it is advisable to check the above web site for further clarification.

Fatalities

  • Fatal accident to anyone in cases where the fatality is work related and whether the person was employed or not (incluidng an act of physical violence to a worker).

Major injuries

  • A fracture other than to fingers, thumbs or toes
  • Amputation of an arm, hand, finger, thumb, leg, foot or toe
  • Permanent loss of sight or reduction of sight
  • Crush injuries leading to internal organ damage
  • Serious burns (covering more than 10% of the body, or damaging the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs)
  • Scalpings (separation of skin from the head) which require hospital treatment
  • Unconsciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia
  • Any other injury resulting in the inability to work for more than seven days: an over-7-day injury is one which is not ‘major’, but results either in the injured person being away from work OR unable to do the full range of their normal duties for more than seven days.

Over-7-day injury

  • Any other injury resulting in the inability to work for more than seven days: an over-7-day injury is one which is not ‘major’, but results either in the injured person being away from work OR unable to do the full range of their normal duties for more than seven days.

Disease

  • If a doctor notifies you that your employee suffers from a reportable work-related disease, then you must report it to the enforcing authority.

Dangerous occurrence

  • If something happens which does not result in a reportable injury, but which clearly could have done, then it may be a dangerous occurrence, which must be reported immediately.

Gas incidents

  • If you are a registered installer of gas appliances, you must provide details of any gas appliances or fittings that you consider to be dangerous to such an extent that people could die or suffer a ‘major injury’, because of the design, construction, installation, modification or servicing.