It won’t have escaped your notice that the Easter and Royal Wedding bank holidays are fast approaching, creating two four-day weekends and giving many workers the chance to enjoy a marathon 11 days off in a row. But during this busy time there’s an important aspect of your business that may be overlooked – whether you will still have adequate first aid cover as staff, including first aiders, take time off.
We’ve found that 79% of businesses have periods where there are no trained first aiders present, which risks employee safety and can be a breach of regulation. In fact this figure can increase during times when a large proportion of staff take annual leave, such as over Easter and Christmas.
Holiday periods should be a time for relaxation – not a time when you are worrying about an accident happening with no one there to deal with it. This can especially be the case in smaller businesses or workplaces with very few employees, where there may be only one first aider. A trained first aider has often been the difference between a life lost and a life saved, so all types of workplace environments need to ensure they are prepared.
The law demands that all workplaces must comply with Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 which requires employers to have adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and staff in place to enable first aid to be given at work. In some cases if there is a fatality because the employer failed to ensure proper health and safety procedures were in place, he or she could be prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.
It’s advisable that you carry out a risk assessment based on your business needs, which covers things such as first aider annual leave, the common injuries that happen in your workplace and shift work. The Health and Safety Executive require that once you’ve identified your first aid needs you must maintain them, so it’s vital that businesses keep this in mind and ensure the necessary arrangements are made.
If you need to train up more staff, it doesn’t take much time and it’s something that can easily be arranged. I’d urge you to take action, sooner rather than later. Let’s make sure this Easter is a healthy and happy one.