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Stuart Lauchlan

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Carry on first aiding: HSE says no need for matron


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new draft guidance to help employers get to grips with proposed changes to workplace first aid.

Two pieces of guidance have been published on the HSE website following a consultation on proposals to amend the First Aid Regulations (1981) and remove the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training providers.
The changes are expected to take effect on 1 October, subject to final approval by the HSE Board and Ministers. Until the regulations are changed businesses requiring first aid training will still have to use a HSE approved provider.
“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,' said HSE policy advisor Peter Brown.
“The draft guidance documents aim to provide practical support to help businesses assess and understand their first aid needs and find a provider best suited to them. HSE has used the feedback from the recent consultation exercise to shape the guidance, but would welcome any further feedback on the guidance before the regulations come into place.”
Employers will still have to ensure that they have adequate first aid provision, based on an assessment of their individual business needs. HSE will retain a role in setting standards by controlling the syllabus content for the basic first aid at work qualifications.
According to St John Ambulance, everybody in the UK should learn "basic first aid techniques".  Companies also need to check their first aid kits on a regular basis to ensure there are enough plasters, bandages and other equipment that can be used to treat an injured worker.
Richard Evens, Commercial Training Director at St John Ambulance said: “From October, businesses will no longer be limited to choosing a training provider approved by the regulatory body.  Employers will therefore have greater flexibility to select their own trainer, but they should carry out thorough checks to ensure that quality of training is not compromised.
“Until the proposed changes take effect, the existing law applies, so all first aid training should continue to be carried out by an HSE-approved training provider.”
The changes are a result of the  Löfstedt report, which recommended that: “The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 should be amended to remove the requirement for HSE to approve the training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel.”
The report noted that “this requirement seems to have little justification provided the training meets a certain standard”, noting further that the HSE approval process went beyond the minimum requirement laid out in EU legislation."
Around 591,000 workers suffered an occupational injury of some description in 2011/12 and it goes without saying that some of these incidents could have been far more serious had there not been a qualified first aid representative on site.