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News

First Aid rules stay fit for purpose

HSE InfoLine : 09 December, 2004  (Company News)
The review, conducted by the Health and Safety Executiv, attracted a large number of responses from the first aid community and employers, revealing majority support for continuing with the current framework. The Regulations are regarded as a cost effective way of ensuring delivery of first aid provision, although further work could be done to improve understanding of the system and the way it operates.
The rules for first aid provision at work are still fit for purpose. That is the overall finding of the first full review of the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.

The review, conducted by the Health and Safety Executiv, attracted a large number of responses from the first aid community and employers, revealing majority support for continuing with the current framework. The Regulations are regarded as a cost effective way of ensuring delivery of first aid provision, although further work could be done to improve understanding of the system and the way it operates.

Colleen Bowen, head of HSE's Occupational Health Support unit, said:

'Significant change has taken place since the First Aid Regulations were introduced in 1981 - there are now many more small and medium sized businesses - and we are pleased to see that the framework continues to serve the needs of today's economy. The high level of constructive feedback we received from first aiders, trainers and employers gives us confidence in the review's conclusions and helps identify areas for immediate action and improvement. For example, we will now clarify areas of confusion such as first aid needs assessments, and consider ways of enhancing the approval system for training courses.'

The review underlined the goodwill and commitment of first aiders, on hand to give potentially life-saving assistance to colleagues in emergencies. It also highlighted scope for spreading preventative health and safety messages through this wide network of practitioners. There are over half a million certified first aiders in the UK.

1. The main recommendations of the review are that:

the Regulations and ACoP should not be changed;
the Guidance should be revised;
first aid courses should be restructured, with the single four day course replaced by a one day course and a three day course. Employers would assess which course they needed.
HSE should approve the structure and content of first aid courses, and encourage the setting-up of an industry body. At present HSE approves first aid course providers but not the structure and content of courses.

2. This is the first full review of the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. An Approved Code of Practice and Guidance support the Regulations. The ACoP was revised in 1990 and 1997 to simplify the structure, clarify requirements and give employers more flexibility.

3. The Regulations require all employers to provide equipment, facilities and personnel to allow workers injured or taken ill at work to receive immediate attention.

4. The review complements the findings of research, commissioned by HSE and conducted by Casella Winton, into the effectiveness of the First Aid Regulations.

5. More details are available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid
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