The law is very clear on the provision of first aid in the workplace and a well-stocked first aid kit is the starting point for even the smallest business concern. As well as a basic kit, it is important to identify any specific first aid needs that your particular business may require – eye wash bottles for example would not necessarily be needed everywhere, but if your staff are expected to come into contact with corrosive liquids or dry materials or if they handle anything that could cause irritation in the eye, a wash bottle must be included, kept full of an appropriate liquid and checked, including replenishment, at a pre-arranged interval. An accident book is a must, because HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reporting requirements mean that everything must be logged and witnessed.
Basic first aid kit
Main Man has kits designated by numbers of people which is a handy way to begin. The ten person kit for workers in a non-hazardous environment comes complete with dressings, bandages, wipes, disposable gloves and other basic needs as well as a guidance leaflet. Every business premises should have a trained first aider, but a reminder is always welcome and of course sometimes the person on the spot is not specifically trained and they may need to take action until help comes. Once the kit has been used, it must be replenished at once back to the full contents. A first aid kit with half of the expected contents missing is actually worse than useless because its presence implies preparedness and people will rely on it in an emergency and be let down. Similar kits are also available for use in vehicles – with these it is essential that someone is made responsible for keeping them filled. The driver (not a named person) is a good choice as they are by definition always present.
Wash bottles are not always strictly necessary but as Main Man has a range of very economical sets, they are a good addition to any first aid armoury. A burns kit is also a good thing to have on hand if there is even the slightest risk of someone getting this kind of injury – quick treatment on a burn can make the outcome very much more hopeful and can minimise scarring and infection. Having a specialist kit, either for washing eyes or for handling burns, is a real confidence booster for the trained first aider because an accident is stressful enough without having to use alternatives to the right dressings or solutions. It is important to constantly reassess what first aid kits are necessary – sometimes just one small change in working practices can mean that a whole new raft of risk is introduced to the business. This shows the vital need for regular meetings of the designated health and safety staff and the trained first aider so that all needs are constantly met.
First aid at work
There are very specific training courses for those who have taken on the role of designated first aider. All businesses should have a first aider on the premises or available at short notice if the business is mobile. This usually means that several staff are trained to allow for absences on holiday or off sick. First aid at work is often not going to be all that different from basic first aid such as you might need in the street or at home, but there are some specific situations which will call for more knowledge and in these cases the training must cover them. This would include things such as asphyxiation in confined spaces, water inhalation, burns, electrocution and crush injuries. A large part of the training is making sure that the first aider is not put at personal risk themselves and of course this is an essential element – if the person helping becomes another casualty, it will not help make the situation any easier to cope with. Alongside the practical training the course will also include advice on how to keep calm in a crisis and also when to abandon first aid intervention and call for expert help – sometimes less is more.