Returning to work after Covid-19: Does your first aid risk assessment need updating?

Written by Anna Bishop
May 12, 2021

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

As more people are returning to work after Covid-19 the focus for many has been incorporating government guidance for hands, face, space, and fresh air. However, it is easy to overlook routine obligations such as updating your first aid needs assessment following numerous changes to the workplace and processes.


Returning to work after Covid-19

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide an “adequate and appropriate” level of first aid for employees, and whilst many things have changed in the last year, your obligations under these regulations have not.

However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises you to consider refreshing your first aid at work needs assessment regularly, especially during the pandemic as things are regularly changing particularly as more people are returning to work after covid-19.

It is important that you consider the following areas when reviewing the first aid needs assessment for your organisation:

Hybrid working

After the pandemic, up to a quarter of employees are expected to work from home permanently, with many organisations expected to adopt a hybrid model of remote and in-person working. You should think about:

  • issuing home-working employees with a personal first aid kit
  • checking they have access to a phone to call for help in the event of an emergency
  • if any additional training or equipment is needed.

More people returning to the workplace

During the week ending 21 March 2021, 51% of workers travelled to their place of work at least once. As more people have started returning to work after Covid-19 restrictions eased you should review the level of first aid training your team has, to ensure first aiders feel equipped to manage illnesses and accidents in the workplace. Changes in numbers within the workplace may mean provision needs to be increased, or that the risks have changed so the level of training needs to be reviewed.

Download our free guide that helps explain the first aid requirements in different workplaces


Are first aiders able and willing to act?

Some first aiders in your team will understandably have concerns about how to safely treat someone during the pandemic, particularly in relation to maintaining social distancing and hygiene control.

You may find that some of your team are unwilling to continue to act as a first aider, as they are concerned there is a risk of contracting the virus. It’s best to talk to your team to address any concerns they may have and direct them to resources that may help, such as: 6 ways to protect yourself when performing first aid during Covid-19.

Flexible working patterns

After the pandemic, employers expect the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis to increase to 37 per cent. First aid cover should always be available to help in a first aid emergency within the workplace. Flexible working patterns, staff bubbles and staff isolating may mean that first aid personnel are no longer available at particular times of the working day. If this is the case you may need to increase first aider provision to cover these new flexible working patterns.

Delays in help

The NHS remains under increased pressure due to the pandemic, leading to a potential impact on ambulance availability. Staggered shifts, social distancing measures and one-way systems may also mean first aiders are unable to respond as quickly as usual.

Updated processes

If you work in a high-risk industry such as manufacturing, construction and engineering, any process adaptations made earlier on in the pandemic, may need to continue for some time, meaning that there are new hazards or a greater risk from existing ones.

Find out more about how to stay compliant

As more people are returning to work after Covid-19, it’s clear that you’ll need to refresh you first aid needs assessment more often than usual to keep pace with the easing of restrictions. We have put together a free download which helps explains the first aid requirements for personnel and equipment in different workplaces. Along with everything you need to know about the First Aid at Work Regulations and how to choose the right course for your organisation.

guide to first aid at work

Topics: First Aid

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