Businesses unprepared for new legislation

On April 6th 2008 the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill 2007 will come into effect across the UK, yet research suggests that a large number of businesses are not prepared for this new legislation and are leaving senior management staff vulnerable to personal fines or even prosecution.

According to the Health & Safety Executive, there were 241 employees killed at work during 2006 / 07, with a further 240,000 staff suffering reportable injuries. Trained first aiders can play a vital role in preventing an accident or illness from becoming fatal and are already a legal requirement. Currently, the HSE requires all employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to workers should they suffer an injury or fall ill. It does not matter if the accident or illness is caused by the work they do or not, the employer has a duty of care towards their employees to provide first aid assistance. Under the new laws, a company will face action where a serious breach in health and safety management procedures means that the duty of care is not met and a fatality occurs.

If your company lacks the correct number or appropriate category of first aider you are leaving your business at serious risk. Should a fatality in the workplace occur, the onus will now be placed on the individual organisation to prove that an effective health and safety policy exists, is clearly communicated and competently implemented. Any gaps in training records would be considered a serious breach in the duty of care, yet without a hard and fast rule from the HSE, many businesses can become confused about what is an "adequate and appropriate" personnel for their business.

As a leading authority on first aid training for the work place, the British Red Cross is urging businesses to take this opportunity to review their current health and safety policy and training records to make sure they are compliant with the law.

To assess how many first aiders are required and ensure effective first aid cover, an assessment of first aid needs must be carried out. This should cover any hazardous areas in the workplace, the number of employees in the organisation, where those employees are located and past accident rates.

In accordance with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requirements, there are two main types of first aid course available: the basic one-day course for the 'Appointed person' and the four-day first aid at work course (for people who want to be recognised as a qualified first aider in the workplace). In both cases certificates are awarded which are valid for three years, after which employees are required to attend further training to refresh their skills and renew their certification. 

Only HSE-approved training providers such as the British Red Cross, can deliver the four-day course. The syllabus covers the practical aspects of first aid, such as dealing with an unconscious casualty, burns and scalds, sprains and strains, blood loss and shock, and poisoning, as well as the recognition and management of major and minor illnesses.

It also covers the administrative side of first aid, such as how to manage an incident and the roles and responsibilities of employers and employees in dealing with first aid incidents. It also includes record keeping and accident reporting and covers how best to communicate and delegate during an emergency situation and how to supervise the transportation of a casualty from the place of work to hospital.

For staff requiring a basic grounding in first aid, the one day course will fulfil this requirement but will not cover the main elements of first aid that are needed to qualify the delegate as an HSE recognised first aider.

Many training providers also offer bespoke first aid courses for organisations of staff with specific specialist needs.

For more detailed information on first aid training regulations log on onto the HSE website

For further information contact:
Lydia Mottershead
0161 888 8952

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