With the announcement from the Health and Safety Executive [HSE] that legislation surrounding first aid training for the workplace will change on 1st October 2013, employers will have more choices of training provider but also anincreased responsibility to ensure the standards and quality of training provider they choose, says the British Red Cross.

Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid said: “We support the freedom of choice for employers – that is absolutely right – but some employers may not consider themselves experts in ensuring that the standard of first aid training is sufficient.”

From 1 October, the HSE will no longer approve first-aid training and qualifications but employers will still be required by law to provide adequate and appropriate equipment and personnel to provide assistance to injured or ill colleagues, and provide trained first aiders based on their own needs assessment.Guidance documents have been issued by the HSE to clarify  legal requirements and provide practical help to businesses in assessing and understanding their first aid needs. Employers are free to select a training provider that best suits their needs, but they must also ensure the first aid practices being taught are correct and up-to-date.

Mulligan continued: “The health and safety landscape is changing but this does not remove risk or accountability for workplace accidents. We would caution against anyone viewing changes to the training market as implying that first aid somehow became less important or less serious. First aid skills can help to save lives and prevent minor accidents and illnesses becoming more serious. At the end of the day, we all have a duty of care to each other at work. First aid is not a box-ticking exercise; it’s vital to the health and wellbeing of colleagues.”

As a leading provider of first aid courses, the Red Cross has been helping companies apply health and safety guidance in practice for more than 30 years and is recognised in the new HSE guidance as a standard setter for first aid practice. As an organisation, the Red Cross is committed to increasing the number of people with life-saving skills, in and outside of the workplace with the competence and confidence to respond when faced with an emergency.