Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!
Essential Training for on-site Contractors – Part 1.
So, when is a first aider not a first aider?
Answer this very carefully, especially if you are a director because first aid provision is a legal responsibility.
If your answer is (as I fear it will be for many) that a first aider is a holder of a First Aid Appointed Person (FAAP) Certificate, then I'm sorry but you don't win any extra hobnobs with your afternoon tea today.
So what is the definition of a bone fide first aider in the UK?
According to the HSE’s guidance notes on the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, a first-aider is “someone who has undertaken training and has a qualification that HSE approves”.
This means they must hold a valid certificate of competence in either First Aid at Work (FAW – the three day course) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW – the one day course).
There are some caveats to remember here:
l Similar sounding course titles issued in the rest of Europe don't count
l The certificates must be current (they last 3 years)
l The trainer must either work for or be linked to an accredited first aid training provider
Erika Maida, first aid instructor and proprietor of Verbatim Training ([email protected]) explains. “Currently the HSE approves the training providers of these two courses, but from October this is likely to be undertaken by newly empowered awarding bodies, with the HSE focusing on its role as standard developer and enforcer.”
The British Red Cross provides a useful calculator to assess your own organisation’s first aider needs. You can check it out for yourself at: www.redcrossfirsta-idtraining. co.uk/Courses/Right-course.aspx
I have to admit to being a bit concerned about our sector on this score, so I would recommend HR directors give this matter keen consideration.
I used the calculator myself and entered the data of what I considered a typical regular employer in our sector might enter.
Computer asks: What type of industry you work in?
I enter: Construction.
Computer says: High risk!
Computer asks: How many employees do you have?
I enter: Five
Computer says: Based on your answers, the minimum requirement is for at least one person trained on either a three day First Aid at Work or one day Emergency First Aid at Work course.
I asked Bernadette Byrne, a freelance human resources consultant with expertise of the stonework contracts sector ([email protected]) what else needs to be considered.
She said: “Each business needs to do their own risk assessment to determine how many properly qualified first aiders they train.
“You have already established that much of the sector is in the high risk zone, but that risk is increased even more if you have staff members with asthma, allergies, diabetes or a heart condition – such risks would hopefully push an employer towards enrolling their potential first aiders on to the three day, rather than the one day, qualification.”
While the First Aid Appointed Person certificate course is useful, holders are not considered competent first aiders. Their role is largely an understanding of where the first aid box is, when to call emergency services and how the accident book should completed.
I commend employers who use the FAAP course as a catch-all to increase awareness on site of first aid matters, but it would be dangerous to have only this provision on site and forget the need for EFAW and FAW certified personnel.
Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to Site Supervision and Conservation Management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers.