Challenging Times

We’re currently experiencing the most challenging and strangest of times most of us can remember due to Covid-19. Many of the normal rules and regulations we live by have become less relevant or even impossible to comply with at the moment. For many staff and workplaces that need to stay open it’s difficult to know where they stand with regards to first aid provision at work during the Covid-19 crisis.

Usual Requirements

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations require employers to undertake a First Aid Needs Assessment. The needs assessment informs how many first aiders are needed and what training they need to have completed. Typically, many small and low risk workplaces find that they need at least one Emergency First Aider in the Workplace at all times. Larger and more hazardous settings will often also require staff with the full 3 day First Aid at Work qualification.

Regulated early years settings are bound by the Early Years Foundation Stage  framework in England and the National Minimum Standards in Wales. These require settings to have at least one member of staff holding the full 12 hour Paediatric First Aid qualification on site and available at all times.

The Forestry Commission and Natural Resources Wales often require workers on their land to complete additional training due to the specific hazards of the environment. This is referred to as +F training.

Outdoor pursuits instructors typically need a 16 hour outdoor first aid qualification.

First Aid qualifications are usually valid for 3 years from the date of completion.

Changes for First Aid at Work

The Health and Safety Executive have announced that all current first aid at work and emergency first aid at work qualifications expiring on or after 16 March 2020 can have a 3 month extension to their validity. This applies only where it has proved impossible to access requalification training due to Covid-19, and reasonable steps must have been taken to attempt to access training.

The HSE make some suggestions to ensure you remain compliant with the law during this period. You can review your needs assessment to see if you still need the same first aid cover if there are fewer staff on site. You may be able to share first aid cover with a neighbouring business or another department within a site.

Changes for Paediatric First Aid

The Department for Education have temporarily relaxed the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework in England. There is still a requirement for a paediatric first aider to be on site at all times where there are children under the age of 24 months on site. For children aged 2-5, settings must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure that they are compliant with the framework. Where this is not possible due to Covid-19 then they may use somebody with a First Aid at Work or Emergency Paediatric First Aid qualification as an alternative.

Care Inspectorate Wales have also temporarily relaxed the National Minimum Standards so that, with local authority approval, a flexible approach can be taken. They suggest that in the current situation, online first aid training may be acceptable.

Changes for Outdoor First Aid

Outdoor First Aid is slightly more complicated. In most cases, the requirement to hold a qualification is down to the employer rather than a national body. Awarding bodies such as Mountain Training UK and British Cycling require candidates to attain the relevant first aid qualification in order to attain their qualification but continuing to hold the qualification is usually a requirement of the employer.

British Canoeing do maintain an ongoing record of coaches’ first aid qualification status. Paddlesport coaches and instructors with certificates expiring after 16 March can extend for up to 3 months. To comply with this, they must complete a free online first aid update on the British Canoeing website.

Not all outdoor first aid course providers deliver regulated qualifications. We do, via the awarding body ITC First. In the case of regulated qualifications a temporary 3 month extension has again been granted for certificates expiring on or after 16 March. Non-regulated course providers may have a similar approach but this is down to those individual organisations as they do not sit within the regulated first aid qualification structure.

Return to Training

We all hope for a return to something approaching normality soon but need to recognise that things will not be exactly the same as before the Covid-19 pandemic. The current flexibility around qualifications will not last forever and there will be a need to return to face to face training. We’ve always believed that first aid is a practical subject best taught and assessed practically. That’s why we’ve reviewed our existing high standards of hygiene for courses to see if there are any further improvements we can make once we return to training. We’re also formulating new ways of managing practical courses to maintain social distancing as far as possible.

All of the extensions granted require you to have taken steps to secure training. With that in mind, now is the time to book training for when restrictions are lifted. You can rest assured that if you book a course with Borderlands and we have to reschedule due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, you won’t lose out. We will move your booking to a later date at no cost to you or will provide full refunds of course fees if other dates don’t work for you. Get in touch to find out more or with any other questions. Stay safe in these difficult times.