First aid at work courses do not cover the use of defibrillators. If your employer decides to provide a defibrillator in your workplace, it is important that those who may use it are appropriately trained.
When an employer's first-aid needs assessment identifies that a first-aider is not necessary, the minimum requirement is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The role of this appointed person includes looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. They can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count).
Do appointed persons need to undertake first-aid training?
To fulfil their role, appointed persons do not need first-aid training. However, emergency first-aid training courses are available.
Can appointed persons perform first aid, eg cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?
Appointed persons are not first-aiders and should not attempt to give first aid for which they have not been trained.
Breaches of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 are dealt with proportionately. Enforcement action could include issuing notices or prosecuting if the circumstances warrant it.
Is annual refresher training a mandatory requirement?
No. It is strongly recommended to employers to help qualified first aiders maintain their basic skills and keep up to date with any changes in first-aid procedures.
First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The only exception to this is where aspirin is used when giving first aid to a casualty with a suspected heart attack, in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice. It is recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid box.
Some workers carry their own medication that has been prescribed by their doctor (eg an inhaler for asthma). If an individual needs to take their own prescribed medication, the first-aider's role is generally limited to helping them to do so and contacting the emergency services as appropriate.
Medicines legislation restricts the administration of injectable medicines. Unless self-administered, they may only be administered by or in accordance with the instructions of a doctor (eg by a nurse). However, in the case of adrenaline there is an exemption to this restriction, which means in an emergency a layperson is permitted to administer it by injection for the purpose of saving life.
When can an Epipen be used?
- The use of an Epipen to treat anaphylactic shock is an example of an exemption from the restriction imposed by the medicines legislation. Therefore, first-aiders may administer an Epipen if they are dealing with a life-threatening emergency involving a casualty who has been prescribed and is in possession of an Epipen, and where the first-aider is trained to use it.
What about the offshore industry?
The use of tablets and medication in the context of first-aid provision in the offshore industry is dealt with separately.