Acts & Regulations
In the event of injury or sudden illness, failure to provide first aid could result in a casualty’s death. The employer should ensure that an employee who is injured or taken ill at work receives immediate attention.
HSE will prosecute in cases where there is a significant risk, a disregard for established standards or persistent poor compliance with the law.
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. These Regulations apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed.
What is ‘adequate and appropriate’ will depend on the circumstances in the workplace. This includes whether trained first-aiders are needed, what should be included in a first-aid box and if a first-aid room is required. Employers should carry out an assessment of first-aid needs to determine what to provide.
The Regulations do not place a legal duty on employers to make first-aid provision for non-employees such as the public or children in schools. However, HSE strongly recommends that non-employees are included in an assessment of first-aid needs and that provision is made for them.
Employers must make appropriate first-aid arrangements for their workplace. In doing so they should consider the circumstances of their workplace, workforce and the health and safety risks that may be present to help them decide what arrangements they need to put in place.
Some small low-risk workplaces need to have only an Emergency First Aider to take charge of first-aid arrangements such as immediate treatment, calling the emergency services and stocking the first-aid box.
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 more advanced trained first-aider such as FAW.
Employers must provide all your employees with details of the first-aid arrangements
Your employer is expected to have:
completed a first-aid needs assessment
ensured that there is either an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements or there are appropriate numbers of suitably trained first-aiders
ensured their are adequate facilities and a suitably stocked first aid kit
provided you with information about the first-aid arrangements
Whilst an employee does not have specific duties relating to first aid at work it may be helpful to your employer to be aware of any health issues that you have in order that they can be considered in the first aid needs assessment. An employer cannot make provision for things of which they are not aware.
Where you may require urgent medication for a pre-existing condition eg a spray for angina, or an auto-injector for a serious allergy, you should consider informing your employer. With your permission an employer can ensure that any trained first aiders are aware and receive any additional training necessary to ensure your care, should you be taken ill at work.
Can legal action be taken against first-aiders?
The Health & Safety Executive states it is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first-aider who was using the first-aid training they have received. HSE cannot give any specific advice on this issue as it does not fall within HSE's statutory powers.
It is recommended that you seek legal advice, or advice from your employer's insurance brokers on whether their policies cover first-aiders' liability.
You can however look at the S.A.R.A.H.'s Act 2015.
This Act applies when a court, in considering a claim that a person was negligent or in breach of statutory duty, is determining the steps that the person was required to take to meet a standard of care.
The stated purpose of the Act is to provide a greater degree of reassurance and protection to good samaritans, volunteers and those who may be deterred from participating in socially useful activities, such as administering first aid, due to worries about risk or liability.
The Resuscitation Council (UK) exists to promote high-quality, scientific, resuscitation guidelines that are applicable to everybody, and to contribute to saving life through education, training, research and collaboration.
The new Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 (known as the SARAH Act) applies to someone who is present at an incident as a bystander and steps in to help.
A few years ago people were told not to help a casualty if they were not first aid trained as the UK were adopting the blame culture and sueing people, this mean people (even if trained in first aid) were reluctant to help others in need.
This act aims to protect those persons who take action in trying to help others as some intervention is better than none.
Was the person acting for the benefit of society or any of its members?
Was the person demonstrating a predominantly responsible approach towards protecting the safety or other interests of others?
Was the person acting heroically by intervening in an emergency to assist an individual in danger?
If a claim for negligence is later brought against the Good Samaritan, courts in England and Wales must take into account whether the person acted for the ‘benefit of society’ and took a ‘predominantly responsible approach’ in protecting other people.