The Health and Safety Executive announced on Monday that from October 1 2013 it will cease regulating workplace first aid training providers. What does this mean for the manufacturing industry? John Cavanagh, regional commercial training director at first aid charity St John Ambulance explains.
From next month, employers will have to take responsibility themselves for ensuring
that their first aid training provider is teaching to a high standard.
This move will give businesses more options when choosing their trainer, but the duty of care which employers have remains, as does their obligation to adhere to the Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.
As such they will need to pay close attention to the new guidelines for the safety of their staff.
High risk environment
Many parts of the manufacturing sector are high risk working environments. According to the HSE, over the past five years 150 workers have died in manufacturing accidents and employers have reported more than 4,500 major injuries a year.
Although it is encouraging to see that fatal accidents are reducing, manufacturing companies need to understand the changes being implemented and ensure that good first aid provision is in place if the industry is to continue reducing these figures.
See more on the withdrawal of HSE accreditation for workplace first aid training and qualifications here.
As first aid training providers will no longer be able to demonstrate quality through holding an HSE license, employers will need to exercise due diligence – and satisfy various key criteria – by reviewing the HSE’s new guidance carefully.
Many of the best employers already see first aid as more than a legal requirement and seek to ensure their first aiders have the confidence to apply their skills when the time comes, rather than simply providing them with a certificate.
However, getting this wrong not only puts the organisation at risk, but more importantly it puts lives at risk – a situation nobody wants.
Nuanced training is best
Businesses can identify the type of first aider they need by using ‘Regulations and Guidance (L74)’ documents to complete a first aid needs assessment.
Personalisation of first aid courses, based on the specific risks identified in these assessments, is a great initiative being put forward by the HSE. When you consider the differences between an office and a manufacturing environment, for example, it is clear that safety varies significantly across different industries.
Finding your training provider
Once manufacturing managers have completed a first aid needs assessment, they can use the guidance on ’Selecting a first aid training provider (GEIS3)’ to guide them through the due diligence so that they are confident in making the right choice of trainer.
Whether the HSE’s guidance will be explicit enough for employers will be more apparent over the coming months and into 2014.
I strongly recommend that businesses take the time to digest the changes and work with a training provider who is an expert in first aid and can provide help around the transition.