No mater how well managed safety is within an organisation, people can still have accidents or fall ill. First aid is about providing the necessary equipment, trained personnel and other facilities to provide basic treatment, and making sure that a process is available to seek additional assistance in situations where it is needed.
There are requirements under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations to ensure that first aid is provided for those at work. It needs to be noted that there is no need to provide first aid facilities for the public under these regulations, but it is strongly recommended that the public should be taken into account when considering the facilities and equipment needed.
First Aid Requirements
There should be at least one properly stocked first aid kit in any premises. This first aid kit should be a suitable container that is identified and kept in an accessible place. It is recommended that the first aid kit is a purchased kit from a reputable supplier, but this is not necessary, so long as the contents are kept in suitable conditions and the container is identifiable.
The standard symbol for first aid is a white cross on a green background, and this style of sign - shown on the left - should be used to identify all first aid kits.
In larger buildings, more than one first aid kit might be required to ensure speedy treatment. If a building occupies more than one floor level, usually one first aid kit would be supplied for each floor as a minimum. This does not include areas seldom accessed, such as towers or basements, but should include areas such as bell-ringing chambers that might be out-of-the-way but used often.
It is also wise to consider how accessible the premises are for the emergency services, considering if there could be a delay in the attendance of an ambulance or doctor. If access is poor, additional first aid equipment might be required. This might include an 'automated external defibrillator', an item that is now being made available in an increasing number of public spaces such as shopping centres and sports stadia and is probably more suited to Churches and Places of Worship in towns and cities who open their doors on a daily basis.
Special first aid equipment is available to compliment the normal first aid kits when there are specific risks, such as burns and scalds, use in food preparation areas and for emergency eye washing. Additionally, kits are available for the safe and hygienic cleanup of bodily fluids, such as urine, which compliment the first-aid kits.
General Contents of a first aid kit
Most purchased kits are given a size based on an indicative numbers of persons that the kit is intended to provide for. Most new kits would conform to BS8599-1 (link from our Sponsor, Safelincs). Such 'BS Compliant' first aid kits contain the equipment that is needed for most situations but additional items might need due to:
- The size and layout of the premises;
- Special hazards that need specific first aid equipment, such as eye-wash stations;
- The nature of the congregation (age, health and abilities);
- If food-handing is carried out; or
- If the premises is some distance from an Accident and Emergency department.
It is important that any use of first aid supplies is replenished as soon as possible or when the date has expired, so spare items should ideally be kept. In some cases, a supply of spare bandages, plasters and equipment might be recommended, but only on larger sites where there are a number of first aid kits.
Medication (including pain killers) must not be kept within first aid kits and the rest of the contents should be appropriate for first aid use (i.e. not home-made).
First Aiders and Appointed Persons
At least one person should be appointed to take charge of the first aid facilities. This involves ensuring the kit is replenished, checking that the contents are not date expired and making arrangements for calling the emergency services if required. Ideally this person should receive emergency first aid training, so the person can treat minor injuries, but this is not mandatory.
Where larger numbers of people are employed, and in situations where first aid treatment might be required for members of the public, the persons should receive a First Aid training course. The most basic training is an Emergency First Aid qualification, which will be adequate for most Churches and Places of Worship where the risk of injury is low, the more in-depth First Aid at Work qualification might be needed in some situations.
With some large or special events, it might be wise to consult with a third-party first aid organisation who will provide first aid cover for a nominal fee.
The names of those appointed to control or administer first aid should be available so that people know who to contact in case of an emergency. In some cases, a poster with names, photographs and departments can be useful. It is also important to ensure continuity of first aid cover in case of holiday leave, part-time work, maternity leave or other situations where the person is not available.
Note that treatment given to members of the public might not be covered by existing liability insurance. If there is any doubt, please contact your insurance provider.
In some situations, people work away from the main site. For example, a minister is making pastoral visits to members of the congregation. Small travel first aid kits are readily available for about £15 for this purpose.
Keeping a record of accidents is a useful way to track how well health and safety is being managed. In many situations, where more than ten people are employed, it is a legal requirement under employment law to keep an accident book, and most insurers require that one is kept. Accident books cost as little as £10 from most good bookshops.
All injuries to employees, volunteers and the public should be recorded as a complete record of the accidents that happen, no matter how small or insignificant the injury. Completed accident forms contain personal information and should be removed from the accident book and stored in a secure location to comply with the Data Protection Act.
A simple record can also be kept of the first aid treatment that an individual has been given. This treatment log does not need to be a complex form, a simple note book can be used where the first aider can record the treatment given to whom and when.
ChurchSafety also suggests that non-injury incidents are reported, as a record of 'near misses' (or sometimes called 'near hits'). These are incidents that could have lead to an injury, should the circumstances have been different. Information on non-injury incidents is very useful when looking at Risk Assessments and how to improve safety.
Certain serious injuries to employees (such as where the employee cannot undertake their job for over 7 days, deaths at work, and in some situations where a member of the public is taken to hospital), are reportable accidents under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).
A centralised website is now available to report all such accidents and incidents. Please refer to the Health and Safety Executive's Website for more information and an online reporting form. A full list of reportable injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences can be found on this site.
RIDDOR also requires that certain serious dangerous occurrences are reported (dangerous occurrences are incidents that did not result in personal injury, but could have done). Similarly, certain work-related diseases are reportable. A full list is available on the HSE Website, available by following the link in the 'Additional Information' section below.
For an overview of the requirements of RIDDOR, or to report a serious accident or reportable disease, please visit the HSE RIDDOR Web Pages.