Richard Evens: First aid- Its a a benefit, not a burden

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It’s just over a year a year since the HSE made changes to workplace safety, yet many businesses are still adapting their processes to adopt these changes and carry out the necessary risk assessments.

While many organisations have trained first aid practitioners, this training is far too often seen as a tick-box exercise rather than a necessary life skill, meaning that employees aren’t necessarily aware of its importance and many first aiders fail to keep their skills updated.

A St John Ambulance survey found that 79% of businesses had periods of time where there were no trained first aiders present. Given that with a blocked airway you have 4 minutes to live yet it takes on average 8 minutes for ambulance to respond to an emergency, it is important for more workers, if not all, to be competent in first aid to minimise these gaps. 59% of workers wouldn’t feel confident in an emergency situation, yet knowledge of these key basic skills can be the difference between life and death. Armed with the correct information, more employees would be keen to have these life-saving skills.

Businesses are always keen to ensure that their benefits packages are as attractive as possible. The inclusion of first aid training in this workplace benefits would not only change how first aid is viewed by employers and employees but would no doubt increase the number of workers equipped with this set of key skills.

If businesses treated training as an employee benefit rather than a time consuming burden, a safer working environment could be guaranteed for thousands of employees. Many employees are offered a gym membership or free breakfast as an extra incentive, yet we have found that in fact 59% of people would like to receive first aid training at work.

In a tough economic climate, it is important to demonstrate the business benefits for making such a move. A safer work environment can lead to increased employee morale and a better commercial reputation – and from a financial viewpoint, the time and money invested into such training can often be far smaller than the time and money spent in the aftermath of a serious accident.

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About Richard Evens

Richard Evens, Commercial Training Director, St John Ambulance

Richard is Commercial Marketing Director at St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid organisation and market leader in workplace first aid training. Responsible for training programmes and educational standards, Richard has been involved in consultation with the HSE since the early development of new guidance for the content and structure of workplace first aid training. He has liaised widely with the HSE and other stakeholders to apply the collective expertise in first aid to the new guidance, becoming a board member of the First Aid at Work Council which was created during this process.

Before joining the charity sector 10 years ago in a retail development role for Oxfam, Richard worked in marketing and logistical roles with Shell and Total Oil. He lives in north west London spending time with his family, trying to keep up with two energetic young children.

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