How important are first aid signs?
In the UK the two largest selling first aid signs are those denoting the location of first aid kits and identifying first aiders. However, even today, many people still question whether either safety sign is actually necessary. In this blog we will investigate both the following signs:
Over each sign sits the requirement of the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. These Regulations state that employers not only have a duty to make adequate first aid provisions for their employees but, according to Regulation 4, they must also ”inform their employees of the arrangements made for first-aid - including the location of equipment, facilities and personnel”.
Of course an employer’s duty to “inform employees” can be discharged in a number of ways, with the most obvious of which being to do it verbally. As part of any induction all employees can be told, with written records signed as proof. With this action carried out an employer can be relatively happy that he or she has done their bit…ticking yet another health and safety box. The only thing they must remember to do is, if anything changes, they must go through this process again.
However, the requirement to inform employees of first aid kits and first aiders is more than just a Health and Safety hurdle to overcome. Telling employees, say, five years ago as to where the first aid box is and who the first aiders are is of no real use today. After all, a lot can happen in this time. Workloads increased, promotions, threat of redundancy, fulfilling urgent orders, change of management etc, etc. In amongst all these more pressing day-to-day issues it is unrealistic to expect employees to remember first aid instructions from five or more years ago!
The real benefit of the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations is that should someone seriously injure themselves, colleagues will know who to turn to or where to find the first aid equipment. After all, in most workplaces accidents are relatively infrequent. So when one does occur, colleagues could easily become panic-stricken and unable to think clearly. Under these circumstances, having a basic first aid sign locating the first aid kit can be extremely useful in ensuring first aid is administered quickly and efficiently.
Likewise, under ACoP Regs, organisations need to assign just one first aider to every 50 members of staff. Knowing who this person is and finding him or her quickly can also be vital in ensuring the correct treatment is properly administered.
As a footnote to this blog, it is also important to note the role the appropriate first aid signs can play should an accident happen at work. Post-incident, should that building be inspected, first aid signs are an almost water-tight way of businesses demonstrating they have regularly told employees of who is their qualified first aider and where the first aid kit is kept. Businesses not wishing to fall foul of the law could do well to invest a small amount now in these simple health and safety signs rather than pay a lot more later!
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