How long a first aid certificate lasts for really depends on the type of qualification you're talking about. If you're holding a certificate for a regulated first aid course (any of the 'at work' series, or a Paediatric first aid) then it'll be every three years. Once that date has gone, you can't be a first aider until you've completed your renewal. For other courses, the validity is usually shorter (between 1 and 1.5 years).
Of course validity is only part of the story - if you're not confident in your skills because you trained two years ago and haven't used your skills since, it's worth considering a skills refresher, or a renewal.
Take a look at the different types of course below to see more details.
In each case, if a member of staff wishes to continue to be a first aider, they should complete and pass their course before their existing certificate expires. If they have not done so, they can’t be a workplace first aider until they have requalified.
In addition, anyone wishing to extend their full First Aid at Work certificate through attending a 2-day requalifier course must do so before their existing 3-day certificate expires. If they have not done so, they will need to attend a full 3-day course to renew.
In addition to renewing their certificates every 3 years, the HSE strongly recommends that all first aiders undertake annual refresher training in the years between full requalifying courses.
This is intended to help first aiders keep their skills up to date, and improve their ability to recall and perform first aid as and when it is required. With good safety practices and a slice of luck, first aid skills are only called on very rarely. So a 1/2-day annual refresher can be invaluable in keeping your first aiders on top of their game.
Renewals for education courses depend very much on the type of training, and the level and type of requirement in the setting.
For regulated (RQF) Paediatric courses, staff must renew every 3 years to remain as Paediatric First Aiders. And as with other working environments, their workplace first aid certificates must also be renewed every 3 years to remain valid.
Courses such as Anaphylaxis training, Managing Medicines in Schools and Infection Prevention and Control can be as determined by the person responsible for first aid in the setting. We'd recommend renewing at least every 2-3 years, depending on the numbers of pupils or staff who are affected by the range of conditions covered by the courses.
Currently there is no mandatory expiry or renewal period on first aid for mental health certificates. We would recommend that you review your requirements as part of your risk assessment, and renew as skills are fading, or as staff turnover leaves your workplace short of staff trained in mental health first aid.
Of course all of the above renewal timescales should take into account staff turnover, sickness and change of circumstance. If one or more first aiders leaves the organisation, look at how many first aiders you have left, and compare this with the numbers you identified in your risk assessment. If the leaver has taken you below your minimum, make sure you get further staff trained.
Similarly, if staff move from one site to another, change shifts, or go on long-term sick, again take a look at whether you have enough first aiders to meet your needs.
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