First Aid for Schools – First aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones. Under health and safety legislation employers have to ensure that there are adequate and appropriate equipment and facilities for providing first aid in the workplace.
First Aid in Schools who is responsible?
Health and safety legislation places duties on employers for the health and safety of their employees and anyone else on the premises. In schools this includes responsibility for the head teacher and teachers, non-teaching staff, pupils and visitors (including contractors). Who the employer is depends on the type of school.
The Head Teacher
The head teacher is responsible for putting the governing body’s policy into practice and for developing detailed procedures. The head teacher should also make sure that parents are aware of the school’s health and safety policy, including arrangements for first aid.
The Local Education Authority
First Aid for schools – In county, controlled and special agreement schools the LEA, as the employer, is primarily responsible for health and safety matters, with managers and staff also having responsibilities.
Teachers and other school staff
Teachers’ conditions of employment do not include giving first aid, although any member of staff may volunteer to undertake these tasks. Teachers and other staff in charge of pupils are expected to use their best endeavours at all times, particularly in emergencies, to secure the welfare of the pupils at the school in the same way that parents might be expected to act towards their children. In general, the consequences of taking no action are likely to be more serious than those of trying to assist in an emergency.
First Aid for schools – What are a First Aider’s main duties?
First aiders must complete a training course approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). At school, the main duties of a first aider are to:
• Give immediate help to casualties with common injuries or illnesses and those arising from specific hazards at school;
• When necessary, ensure that an ambulance or other professional medical help is called.
What is an appointed person?
An appointed person is someone who:
- Takes charge when someone is injured or becomes ill;
- Looks after the first-aid equipment eg restocking the first-aid container;
- Ensures that an ambulance or other professional medical help is summoned when appropriate.
Appointed persons are not first aiders. They should not give first aid treatment for which they have not been trained. However, it is good practice to ensure that appointed persons have emergency first aid training/refresher training, as appropriate. These courses do not require HSE approval.
They normally last four hours and cover the following topics:
- What to do in an emergency;
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation;
- First aid for the unconscious casualty;
- First aid for the wounded or bleeding.
Emergency first-aid training should help an appointed person cope with an emergency and improve their competence and confidence.
First Aid – What do schools need to do?
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 set out what employers have to do. First Aid for schools – Employers must provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and qualified first aid personnel. The Regulations do not oblige employers to provide first aid for anyone other than their own staff, but employers do have health and safety responsibilities towards non-employees. The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) guidance recommends that organisations, such as schools, which provide a service for others should include them in their risk assessments and provide for them.
In the light of their legal responsibilities for those in their care, schools should consider carefully the likely risks to pupils and visitors, and make allowance for them when drawing up policies and deciding on the numbers of first-aid personnel.
Where first aid is provided for staff and pupils, schools should ensure that:
- provision for employees does not fall below the required standard;
- provision for pupils and others complies with other relevant legislation and guidance.
First Aid for schools – Assessment of Need
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 require employers to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees at work,
and others who may be affected by their undertaking, to identify what measures they need to take to prevent or control these risks.
Risk Assessment of First Aid needs – What should Schools consider?
Schools normally include staff, pupils and visitors when carrying out risk assessments for first-aid needs. County and controlled schools should check their LEA’s procedures.
Points to consider:
What size is the school and is it on split sites and/or levels?
The governing body/head teacher need to consider additional first aid provision if there is more than one building. They should consider how many first-aid personnel are needed to provide adequate cover on each floor on a split level site and outlying buildings, and on each site of a split-site school.
Location of school
First Aid for schools – Is it remote from emergency services? It is good practice to inform the local emergency services, in writing, of the school’s location (giving Ordinance Survey grid references, if necessary) and any particular circumstances that may affect access to the school. If the school has more than one entrance, emergency services should be given clear instructions on where or to whom they should report.
Are there any specific hazards or risks on the site?
For example, hazardous substances, dangerous tools and machinery. Temporary hazards, such as building or maintenance work, should also be considered and suitable short-term measures put in place.
Are there staff or pupils with special health needs or disabilities? What age range does the school cater for? Different first-aid procedures may apply to pupils in primary and secondary schools. For example, the age of pupils may affect the type of first-aid procedures required, such as resuscitation techniques. First-aid training organisations can provide advice on training for first-aid personnel in schools.
Accident statistics can indicate the most common injuries, times, locations and activities at a particular site. These can be a useful tool in risk assessment, highlighting areas to concentrate on and tailor first-aid provision to.
How many first-aid personnel are required?
There are no rules on exact numbers. Employers have to make a judgement based on their own circumstances and a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. Governing bodies/head teachers should consider the likely risks to pupils and visitors, as well as employees, when drawing up policies and deciding on the numbers of first-aid personnel.
The HSC provide guidance on numbers of first-aid personnel based on employee numbers. As a general guide, they recommend that:
- a lower risk place of work (eg shops, offices, libraries), with fifty to one hundred employees, should consider having at least one first aider;
- a medium risk place of work (eg light engineering and assembly work, food processing) with twenty to one hundred employees, should consider having at least one first aider for every fifty employees (or part thereof).
Schools will generally fall into the lower risk category, but some schools or areas of activity may fall into the medium risk category. Schools should base their provision on the results of their risk assessment. If there are parts of the school where different levels of risk can be identified, the employer should consider the need to make different levels of provision in different areas/departments. When considering how many first-aid personnel are required, the governing body/head teacher should also consider:
- Adequate provision for lunchtimes and breaks. It is good practice to encourage lunchtime supervisors to have first-aid training;
- Adequate provision for leave and in case of absences;
- First-aid provision for off-site activities ie school trips. If a first-aider accompanies pupils off-site, will there be adequate first-aid provision in the school?
- Adequate provision for practical departments, such as science, technology, home economics, physical education;
- Adequate provision for out of hours activities eg sports activities, clubs;
- Any agreements with contractors (eg school meals) on joint provision for first aid for their employees;
- Adequate provision for trainees working on site. They have the same status as staff for the purposes of health and safety legislation.
Contacting first-aid personnel
Do all school staff know how to contact a first aider? Are there agreed procedures in place if an emergency occurs in an isolated area eg on the playing field? Governing bodies/head teachers should consider how best to let everyone know the school’s first-aid arrangements. Procedures need to be in place that are known, understood and accepted by all. Information should be given about the location of first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel. First-aid notices should be displayed which are clear and easily understood by all.
First Aid for Schools – Qualifications and Training
A first aider must hold a valid certificate of competence, issued by an organisation whose training and qualifications are approved by the HSE.
Training courses cover a range of first aid competences. However, standard first aid at work training courses do not include resuscitation procedures for children. For specific training for children see our Paediatric First Aid training for schools. The employer should arrange appropriate training for their first-aid personnel. Training organisations will often tailor courses specifically to schools’ needs. It is helpful to let the training organisation know in advance of any particular areas that should be covered.
First aid at work certificates are only valid for three years. Employers should arrange refresher training and retesting of competence before certificates expire. If a certificate expires, the individual will have to undertake another full course of training to become a first aider.
The main 3 First Aid courses are as follows:
Hygiene and Infection Control
All staff should take precautions to avoid infection and must follow basic hygiene procedures. Staff should have access to single-use disposable gloves and hand washing facilities, and should take care when dealing with blood or other body fluids and disposing of dressings or equipment. LEAs may have produced guidance on this issue, which county and controlled schools should follow.
Reporting accidents and record keeping
Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) some accidents must be reported to the HSE.
The employer must keep a record of any reportable injury, disease or dangerous occurrence. This must include: the date and method of reporting; the date, time and place of the event; personal details of those involved and a brief description of the nature of the event or disease. This record can be combined with other accident records.
What accidents to employees do LEAs and/or schools need to report?
County and controlled schools should follow their LEA’s procedures. Some LEAs may require serious/significant accidents to be reported centrally for insurance/statistical purposes or as part of their RIDDOR arrangements.
The following accidents must be reported to HSE if they injure either the school’s employees during an activity connected with work, or self-employed people while working on the premises:
- Accidents resulting in death or major injury (including as a result of physical violence);
- Accidents which prevent the injured person from doing their normal work for more than three days (including acts of physical violence).
For definitions of major injuries, dangerous occurrences and reportable diseases see HSC/E guidance on RIDDOR 1995, and information on Reporting School Accidents.