First aid and fire safety, part of health and safety (H&S) is an integral part of any UK business. Legal compliance is essential, but the application of health and safety does, in itself, have its benefits. Businesses can protect workers from illness and injury, improving happiness and helping to retain staff with less sickness absence. Insurance and legal costs are reduced, while productivity and profits are ultimately increased.
The key point that any business-owner or employer should remember with regards to H&S, is this: you must take reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm within your premises for employees and customers.
What this actually means will depend on the size and nature of your business. If you have more than five employees, you will be required to keep records of risk assessments and health and safety procedures, and make these available to your staff.
As the ‘responsible person’ in a legal sense, you can conduct risk assessments yourself, though larger companies may wish to employ a professional. The results of the risk assessments will determine the measures that you need to implement for both first aid and fire safety in order that you have ‘taken reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm’.
First Aid Best Practices
The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations state that you must provide appropriate equipment, facilities and trained staff to give immediate help to staff who are injured or fall ill in the workplace, both for common ailments and for those specific to your business environment.
Again, the circumstances in your workplace will determine the precautions that you need to take. The St John’s Ambulance first aid requirements calculator can help you to learn more about your businesses risk levels and the recommendations to address them.
At a minimum, low-risk businesses need to provide:
- A suitable first aid box, which is clearly marked and accessible to staff. It should be regularly checked and stocked.
- A person who is appointed to take care of the first aid box, including checks and restocking.
- All information and guidelines for employees, as well as first aid training for the appropriate number of staff if necessary. Training may include a first aid at work course and/or emergency first aid at work course.
As to what to include in the first aid box, the Health and Safety Executive doesn’t give a definite list, but the guideline states that a low risk environment should have a minimum of:
- 20 Individually wrapped plasters
- 2 sterile eye pads
- 4 sterile triangular bandages
- 2 large sterile wound dressings
- 6 medium sterile wound dressings
- Disposable gloves
- An information leaflet
Higher-risk businesses may need to implement further first aid measures for compliance and best-practice, such as first-aid rooms, additional equipment and further training for staff. Trained staff should regularly review their course material, and/or take additional courses.
Fire Safety Best Practices
Employers are also responsible for fire safety in their business. You must carry out a fire risk assessment and regularly review and update the assessment, as well as making staff aware of the risks, and putting in place fire safety measures to reduce the risks that you have identified.
You are also responsible for putting an emergency fire plan in place for your business, as well instructing and training staff adequately on fire safety.
The overall aim is to take reasonable steps to prevent fire-related accidents and incidents from occurring in your workplace, and the actions and scale of your measures will depend on the size and nature of your business. Risk assessment is crucial to understanding exactly how to move forward, but measures might include detection systems, fire-fighting equipment and evacuation.
The St John’s Ambulance fire marshal requirements calculator can help you. Employing or training a fire marshal is beneficial for any business concerned with fire safety. A fire marshal can install and check your equipment and fire doors, monitor your businesses’ fire safety, conduct evacuation, and review and analyse your plans.