by Heather

May 28, 2020

Revealing a better world after COVID-19

Following on from meetings between governing parties in the First Aid world, the HSE and the First Aid Awarding Organisation forum (FAAOF) have released further statements regarding the resumption of first aid training during the coronavirus outbreak.

Although we're not there yet, we're moving towards the Government's COVID alert level 3. To help you to make informed decisions about staying compliant and reorganising your training, we're publishing the details of their statements.  We've also picked out the key points that you should watch out for.

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The HSE's Statement

First aid cover and qualifications during the coronavirus outbreak

You can check out the text of the HSE's full statement below. Or to ensure you have the latest copy, take a look at their site. The key points are these:

  • You need to keep enough first aid cover to meet the requirements identified in your first aid needs assessment (and to stay legally compliant)
  • You can share first aiders with other businesses. But you must make sure the needs of both businesses are met at all times
  • If you have a first aid certificate which expires on or after 16th March 2020, you now have until September 30th 2020 to renew it. This is expected to be the final renewal extension.

Check out the HSE's Full Text

If first aid cover for your business is reduced because of coronavirus or you can’t get the first aid training you need, there are some things you can do so that you still comply with the law.

You should review your first aid needs assessment and decide if you can still provide the cover needed for the workers that are present and the activities that they are doing.

Keep enough first aid cover

If fewer people are coming into your workplace it may still be safe to operate with reduced first aid cover. You could also stop higher-risk activities.

Share first aid cover with another business

You could share the first aiders of another business, but be sure that they have the knowledge, experience and availability to cover the first aid needs of your business. 

Shared first aiders must:

  • be aware of the type of injuries or illnesses that you identified in your first aid needs assessment and have the training and skills to address them
  • know enough about your work environment and its first aid facilities
    be able to get to the workplace in good time if needed
  • Whoever provides the temporary cover must make sure they do not adversely affect their own first aid cover. 
First aid certificate extensions

If you hold a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16 March 2020 and cannot access requalification training because of coronavirus, you may qualify for an extension. This applies to:

  • Offshore Medic (OM)
  • Offshore First Aid (OFA)
  • First Aid at Work (FAW)
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)
How you qualify for the extension

To qualify for the extension, you must be able to:

  • explain why you haven’t been able to requalify
  • demonstrate what steps you have taken to access the training, if asked to do so
Requalification training in England

The first aid training industry in England is confident that enough courses will now be available for all required requalification training to take place. HSE has therefore agreed a final deadline for requalification for these qualifications of 30 September 2020.

Requalification training in Scotland and Wales

It is accepted that training capacity in Scotland and Wales, and for some parts of the emergency services across Great Britain, might take longer to build.

The deadline for completing requalification training in Scotland and Wales (and in relevant GB emergency services), will therefore be reviewed by HSE over the coming months. Employers or certificate holders should still try to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity.

Annual refresher training

If first aiders are unable to access annual refresher training face to face during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, HSE supports the use of online refresher training to keep their skills up to date. 

HSE still strongly recommends that the practical elements of actual FAW, EFAW and requalification courses are delivered face to face, so that competency of the student can be properly assessed.

Interrupted first aid training

If because of coronavirus you cannot complete training for your first aid qualification within the usual timeframe, training can restart at a later date as long as:

  • a full recap of training delivered before the interruption is done before moving onto undelivered modules
  • the awarding body is content that you can show:
    • a full understanding of all aspects of the course content
    • the knowledge required and competencies at the end of the training
Heading towards COVID Level 3

FAAOF's Statement

This statement is much more about guidance for training providers rather than first aiders. But it does explain the measures that the training industry is undertaking to make sure we keep you, your staff and our trainers safe during training.

HTS Training will be following these measures as we restart courses. And as guidance changes, we'll be keeping in line with that too.

We've included the full text of FAAOF's statement below, and you can read it first hand here. But I've also added the key points for you below:

  •  Training (other than absolutely essential training) should not take place until the Government has changed the alert level to 3.
  • Social Distancing (2m) must be maintained on all courses. This may result in smaller class sizes, depending on the size of training rooms
  • Any candidates displaying COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to start a course. Those displaying symptoms during the course will be required to leave.
  • Thorough cleaning of all equipment will take place between learners and between courses.
  • Some training may need to be adjusted to reduce infection risk. These changes will be based on the current medical advice. Training will still include teaching of rescue breaths.
  • All other recommended infection prevention measures will be followed by trainers and candidates, including handwashing.
  • Track and trace of candidates and trainer will be undertaken if any attendee shows symptoms within 14 days of the end of the course.

FAAOF Statement in full

FAAOF recommend that first aid training (other than absolutely essential first aid training) should not restart until after the government has changed the COVID-19 alert status to Level 3.

Training must only take place where this is permissible in accordance with the UK Government and devolved administrations or regional restrictions.

Where training takes place, the following guidance must be followed:

  • A training provider must risk assess their training delivery and mitigate all risks of possible spread of COVID-19.
  • A training provider must design lessons to ensure that there is no close contact between learners and or trainers and a 2m distance is always maintained. Sensible adaptions to training and assessment activities must be introduced to achieve this.
  • A training provider must ensure appropriate handwashing facilities and / or alcohol hand sanitisers are available for use as learners enter and exit the training room and throughout their time in the classroom.
  • A training provider must have in place a process for preventing those with possible COVID-19 symptoms (fever, a new cough or loss of smell/taste) from entering the classroom. They must also have in place a process to manage instances of people who develop symptoms during the delivery of any training.
  • A training provider must have a process in place to be notified, then ‘track and trace’ other learners if someone on the course develops symptoms within 2 weeks of attending first aid training.
  • All equipment that is used by learners must be thoroughly cleaned before use by an
    individual learner.
  • The first aid taught must reflect protocols that ensure the safe performance of first aid during the current COVID-19 outbreak that is supported by a body of medical opinion and the Resuscitation Council UK. This must still include the teaching of rescue breaths.

About the author 

Heather

Heather is co-owner and Director of Training of HTS Training Ltd - the specialist first aid training providers. She has been a registered nurse for over 25 years, and has been training first aid commercially for more than 15 years.

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