Do I need a first-aider in my small business?

Health and safety legislation applies to all businesses, regardless of the size of the firm or the hazards exposed to employees and every owner has a personal responsibility to protect the welfare of their staff, says Mike Smith, Ripley Training Ltd.

Before deciding how many first-aiders your business requires you will need to carry out a thorough risk assessment of your work premises. This risk assessment can be carried out by an experienced health and safety management expert from Ripley Training Ltd if you’re unfamiliar with health and safety regulations or require an expert’s view of the potential dangers posed.

Your business will need to take an overall view of the risk factors such as how many physical hazards are present such as chemicals or machinery, the number or experience of employees, the location of the premises in relation to emergency services and the premises’ previous track record in maintaining the safety of its staff before implementing first-aid provision across your site(s).

In some cases your work environment might be considered low risk such as a shop or office, you may only require minimal first aid arrangements, which means appointing a single individual with responsibility for first aid.   We recommend that this appointed person undertakes the one day Emergency First Aid at Work Training Course to enable them to preserve life until the emergency services arrive.   We often forget about the visitors or clients visiting our sites and we feel it is better to know what actions to take in cases of emergency.  This “appointed person” will have a supervisory role and will take charge of an incident in which someone falls ill or is injured, carrying out duties such as calling an ambulance and where appropriate taking action to preserve life.  

All businesses need to store a complete first-aid box on site which is easily accessible to staff and your employees need to be informed about first aid arrangements. 

If your organisation is larger and the risks considered higher, you must ensure you have more suitably qualified first aiders who can be called upon in an accident. These must have been formally trained in first aid and have received certification.  Depending on the level of risk and number of staff you might be considering someone attending the three-day First Aid at Work Training Course.

Mike Smith, Managing Director at Ripley Training Ltd, said: “Simple safety procedures can be introduced in any small business with little, if any cost, and there is really no excuse for business owners to ignore legislation and apply best practice in the workplace.

“In today’s litigious society, it makes business financial sense to develop robust safety systems that reduce the risk of accidents to protect staff and also cover you and the business in the event of a claim.”