• Phil Hutton
  • 15 October 2013

First aid changes employers must be aware of

The requirement for first aid training providers to be licenced with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now been revoked.

An employer will 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 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, but businesses now have more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace following a change in health and safety regulations.

As of 1 October 2013, the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been amended, removing the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications although 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.

The changes to first aid have come about from a drive for de-regulation. The HSE was spending £500,000 per year on monitoring HSE centres and yet they provide no approval system for any other training.

The aim is for training providers to be able to offer courses to the current standard, without the HSE having to directly monitor this. The responsibility will be placed on employers to ensure they carry out due–diligence, and to guarantee their training provider is appropriately qualified.

There are three main routes to providing this due diligence:

  • Self-regulated.
  • Industry body.
  • Ofqual awarding organisation.

A self-regulated course would involve the training provider making sure that they are working within the HSE guidance for first aid courses. Recent draft guidance from the HSE showed no differences to what there currently is. As long as existing training providers work in the manner that they have always worked, there is no need for any further actions. 

The industry body route is a second option.

There are a couple in existence, however, customer awareness of these bodies will probably remain low for the foreseeable future.

The Ofqual awarding organisation is the third option, and quickly becoming the preferred route for many. Although courses are less flexible, and assessments more challenging for some learners than self-regulated courses, the weight of the Ofqual recognition and the fact that the “level 2” is more widely recognised means that this is the course of choice for many employers.

Clearly, as an employer, you will require some assurance that the due-diligence criteria is adequately met and that you have selected an appropriate training provider. All training providers should be able and prepared to demonstrate how they satisfy these criteria. Clarity in this area will be beneficial to both employers and first-aid training providers.

The guidance advises on the levels of due-diligence that you may be required to follow. 

When selecting a training provider you should check:

  • the qualifications expected of trainers and assessors; 
  • monitoring and quality assurance systems;
  • teaching and standards of first-aid practice;
  • syllabus content; and
  • certification.