First Aid, COVID and your business. We’re well into life with COVID and businesses have had a lot on their plates, adapting to new ways of working and fighting for survival. The very big companies have whole departments and posts dedicated to health and safety. In smaller companies health and safety is often one part of someone’s job. In these instances especially right now, first aid provision can be overlooked.
Sickness, accidents and injuries happen any time, any place anywhere whether we have COVID or not. The actions of first aiders can make a significant different to the casualty’s recovery or even survival. So, has anything changed because of COVID?
The short answer is nothing has changed. Businesses still need to assess their first aid needs. They still need first aiders, provisions and plans to meet their assessed level of need. However, some businesses may find they are having difficulty meeting the provision they require. If this is your business, here are some points to consider.
1. Review the businesses needs
On reviewing their needs, some businesses may find they require less first aiders. It may be that they have less employees working on a site at one time, or their operations have changed so they are less risky, amongst other reasons. Reviewing your business’s first aid needs assessment is the number one thing to do.
2. Qualification training
Some first aid training has been running through the pandemic but some businesses have found that they haven’t been able to get the training they need to maintain first aiders qualifications. This has left them with gaps.
During the pandemic the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) allowed (in circumstances that must be proved) First Aid at Work or Emergency First Aid certificates that expired after 16 March 2020 to remain valid until 31 October 2020 or 6 months from date of expiry, whichever was later. All re-qualification training for these certificates must completed by 31 March 2021. This could apply to your business so check this on the HSE website.
Information about Offshore Medic and Offshore First Aid Certificates and provision for people who started first aid training but didn’t complete the course due to the pandemic is also available from the HSE.
There’s been a rise in online training during the pandemic. The HSE supports this in the absence of other options, but still strongly recommend that the practical elements of actual First Aid at Work, Emergency First Aid at Work and re-qualification courses are delivered face to face, so that competency of the student can be properly assessed.
While online training is very convenient, it is our view at Rosecroft Health and Safety, that there is no substitute for hands on practice. Most of the time we undertake training then put what we learn into practice. In the case of first aid we train and hope we don’t have to do this. For most people this isn’t something they practice regularly. This is why at Rosecroft Health and Safety we believe it is crucial to be in the classroom, taking advantage of those opportunities to practice with an expert there to answer questions and guide people.
3. Sharing first aiders
If a business is struggling with this then the HSE suggest considering the option of sharing first aiders with another business. This is not a straightforward agreement to share. Businesses need to assess whether each can provide the knowledge, experience and availability the other requires. More information is available from the HSE.
4. Performing First Aid in the COVID world
Do your first aiders know how to do this? Do they know what’s changed? What the guidelines are? Have you checked you have the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
The HSE say to try to assist at a safe distance from the casualty as much as you can and minimise the time you share a breathing zone. They also say that if the casualty is capable, tell them to do things for you, but treating the casualty properly should be your first concern. Remember the 3P model – preserve life, prevent worsening, promote recovery.
The Resuscitation Council has issued a statement and guidance on CPR. They say to recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives.
Rosecroft Health and Safety’s First Aid courses are running in Mill Hill, London From January 2021. Take a look at these if you need to train first aiders, annual refresher or re-qualification courses. If you have a group, Rosecroft Health and Safety can come to you.