How can you help ensure first aid cover when your employees return to work?

Written by James Reed
Jan 20, 2021

James is a Training Product Manager at Red Cross Training responsible for the development and review of our training products.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that first aid training has been interrupted and some courses have been unable to take place. However, as we continue to provide workplace first aid training for key industries during the current lockdown restrictions in line with Health & Safety Executive (HSE) an First Aid Quality Partnership (FAQP) guidance, you must still have a trained first aider(s) on your site at all times, as accidents can happen at any time and anywhere.

If first aid cover for your business has been affected because of coronavirus, there are some things you can do so that you still comply with the law.


1. Review your first aid needs assessment

The first step should be to review your first aid needs assessment and decide if you can still provide the cover needed for the workers that are present and activities that they are doing.

You should discuss the assessment with your first aiders. They will need to be confident about providing the right assistance and knowing what equipment they can use to minimise the risk of infection.

> Read our blog on how to complete a first aid needs assessment


2. Keep enough first aid cover

If there are fewer people coming into your workplace it may still be safe to operate with reduced first aid cover.

Your first aid needs assessment may identify workers who are now deemed vulnerable or high-risk, so it may be appropriate for them to remain working from home. You can find guidance on shielding and protecting workers, explaining who is clinically extremely vulnerable, from Public Health England.

You could also stop higher risk activities to minimise the risk of a first aid emergency.


3. Share first aid cover with another business

Another option could be to share the first aiders of another business. You will need to check they have sufficient experience, knowledge, and availability to cover the first aid needs of your business.

Guidance from the HSE recommends that shared first aiders must:

  • be aware of the type of injuries or illnesses that you identified in your first aid needs assessment and have the training and skills to address them
  • know enough about your work environment and its first aid facilities
  • be able to get to the workplace in good time if needed

Whoever provided the temporary cover must make sure they do not adversely affect their own first aid cover.

4. Reschedule your first aid training

The HSE advises that if you or your staff cannot complete training for your first aid qualification within the usual timeframe because of coronavirus, training can restart at a later date as long as:

  • a full recap of training delivered before the interruption is done before moving onto undelivered modules
  • the awarding body is content that you can show:
  • a full understanding of all aspects of the course content
  • the knowledge required and competencies at the end of the training

If your certificate is due to expire, you may qualify for an extension. Currently the HSE guidance states that first aid at work or emergency first aid at work certificates expiring on or after 16th March may qualify for an extension if requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with Covid-19 or by complying with related government advice. They can remain valid until 31 October 2020 or 6 months from the date of expiry, whichever is later. All requalification training for these certificates should be completed by 31 March 2021.

Paediatric first aid certificates expiring on or after 1 October 2020 have been extended to 31 March 2021 if you are unable to requalify for the above reasons stated by the HSE.

Refresher training can be taken online, but HSE strongly recommends that the practical elements of some qualification and requalification courses are delivered face to face, so that competency of the student can be properly assessed.

Adequate first aid provision can help to improve the outcomes of injuries and illnesses that occur, so it's important to fully understand your duties. That's why we've put together a helpful, clear and comprehensive eBook: The complete guide to first aid at work

guide to first aid at work

Topics: First Aid

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