Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 2013
As of 1 October 2013, the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been amended, removing the requirement for the HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications. This means that businesses now have more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace.
Legislative change will take effect at midnight on 30 September 2013 and HSE approval of first aid training and qualifications will cease.
For training providers currently approved by HSE, regardless of the date of expiry that appears on their approval certificate, their approval to undertake first training will expire and will no longer be valid.
An employer will still need to make an assessment of their first-aid needs to establish what provision for first aid is required. This will depend upon the workplace, taking into account, among other things, the number of employees, size, location and work activity.
HSE has published final guidance to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, and provided further guidance on the selection of first aid training providers following a lengthy consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Both publications are available on HSE’s website. The guidance has been available on HSE’s first aid web pages since February 2013 and has been updated to reflect feedback received. Hard copies of the guidance to the Regulations will be available from HSE books in the near future.
The revised guidance helps employers identify and select competent training providers. The guidance makes it clear that first aid training is available from a wide range of providers including:
- those who choose to offer regulated qualifications (first aid qualifications regulated by the qualification regulators - Ofqual, SQA and the Welsh Government),
- those who operate under voluntary approval schemes for example, a trade or industry body having quality assurance schemes accredited by a third party (eg UKAS),
- those who operate independently of any such scheme for example, where a training provider chooses to demonstrate their competence to an employer by providing evidence that they meet the criteria set by HSE, or
- from one of the Voluntary Aid Societies (St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid).
The HSE claims businesses now have more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace. The changes are advantageous where additional or specialist training may be required due to the work activity, for example in the outdoor education industry, where employers will be able to choose the most appropriate specialist provider to meet their identified training needs – and potentially avoid duplication in training.
All training providers will need to be able – and should be prepared to demonstrate how they satisfy the criteria set by HSE. Clarity in this area will be beneficial to both employers and first aid training providers. However, the Health and Safety at Work Act clearly places a duty on the employer to select a competent training provider.
The changes relating to first aid apply to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors.
The HSE's policy lead for First Aid, said: "HSE no longer approves first-aid training and qualifications. Removing the HSE approval process will give businesses greater flexibility to choose their own training providers and first aid training that is right for their work place, based on their needs assessment and their individual business needs."
"Employers still have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work."
Information, including the regulations document and a guidance document to help employers identify and select a competent training provider to deliver any first-aid training indicated by their first-aid needs assessment are available on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/.
The HSE say they will continue to set the standards for training. While the changes give employers flexibility, the one day Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) and three day First Aid at Work (FAW) courses remain the building blocks for first aid training.
As part of the changes, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) text which was previously included in guidance document L74 (which consisted of only 12 sentences), has been incorporated into the new guidance. The advice in the guidance sets out clearly the recommended practical actions needed, and the standards to be achieved, to ensure compliance with duties under the 1981 Regulations. This is intended as a comprehensive guide on ensuring compliance with the law.