by Heather

April 3, 2020

Social Distancing

Over the course of a few short weeks, the world as we currently know it has changed and many businesses are finding the normal order of things has also changed. One thing that doesn’t alter, and in fact has become a high priority, is our need to keep the workforce safe. 

Obviously having access to PPE is crucial for staff in key areas but other more subtle requirements are still there. Having adequate access to first aid remains key too. 

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Some business may have had to furlough their first aiders, others may find that those key members of staff are on sick leave or shielding, thus reducing access to first aid.

First aid training has largely ceased for the moment due to social distancing requirements and key process such as CPR have had to be adapted to avoid the need for mouth to mouth contact. To help business the HSE has issued the following statement:

HSE Statement: First aid cover and qualifications during the coronavirus outbreak

"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
I
f there are fewer people 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 a 3-month extension. This applies to:

  • Offshore Medic (OM)
  • Offshore First Aid (OFA)
  • First Aid at Work (FAW)
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)

To qualify for the extension, you must be able to explain why you haven’t been able to requalify and demonstrate what steps you have taken to access the training, if asked to do so.

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”

The same extension to qualifications will also apply to paediatric first aid qualifications.

Always check with the HSE for the full detail of their latest statements. The above HSE statement may be found here.

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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