First Aid and Covid 19: Guidance for workplaces
Giving adequate and appropriate first aid assistance to any person suffering from a minor or serious illness or injury is an important part of workplace safety. However, in the age of Covid-19, companies and their first aiders should also be aware of the specific guidance available on first aid provision in non-healthcare settings.
What can my company do in terms of policy?
As a company, you must protect workers from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your employees and others from Covid-19. Hence a risk assessment is crucial in helping to manage risk and protect people. According to the HSE, the following are important when reviewing your first aids risk and needs assessment:
- identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
- think about who could be at risk
- decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
- act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.
Further practical steps can be taken such as:
- putting in place social distancing measures
- staggering shifts
- providing additional handwashing facilities
Reduced first aid cover?
If first aid cover for your company is reduced because of Covid-19 and first aid training cannot be accessed, there are measures that you can take to maintain legal compliance. If fewer people are coming into the workplace it may still be safe to operate with reduced first aid cover. Also consider stopping higher-risk activities if first aid provision is inadequate. Reviewing the first aid needs assessment is crucial in deciding if the same cover can still be provided for the employees present and the activities they are doing.
What can I do as a first-aider?
Call the emergency services immediately If you suspect a serious illness or injury, and tell the call handler if the patient has any COVID-19 symptoms. Remember the 3P model – preserve life, prevent worsening, promote recovery still applies.
Maintaining a safe distance from the casualty is crucial, as is minimising the time shared in a breathing zone. There is always a risk of cross contamination thus if the casualty is capable, tell them to do things for you; but treating the casualty properly should be your first concern.
Also make sure you wash your hands or use an alcohol gel, before and after treating a casualty also ensure that you do not cough or sneeze over a casualty when you are treating them.
After delivering any first aid, ensure you safely discard disposable items and clean reusable ones thoroughly, along with washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser as soon as possible.
For CPR, the Resuscitation Council (UK) provides some specific advice of how to keep yourself safe when providing CPR. You can read their full advice on their website here.