First Aid FAQ Responses

Do I need a qualified first aider in my workplace?

A risk assessment in the context of the Safety Statement should consider the numbers employed, the nature of the work, the degree of hazard, the level of accidents arising, the size and location of the workplace, the distribution of the employees, shift working, availability of an occupational health service with the workplace and the distance and duration from external medical services etc.

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How many first aiders should be present in a workplace?

The table below gives an indicative number of first aiders required for different types of workplaces.

Type of WorkplaceMaximum No. of
Employees
at any one time
No. of Occupational
First Aiders
Factories, Construction Sites, Surface Mines and Quarriesup to 491 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary
50-149Minimum 1
150-299Minimum 2
> 3001 extra for every 150 employees or
part thereof
Underground Mines 1 for every 10 employees
or part thereof
Other workplacesup to 991 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary
100-3991
400-6992
 more than 7001 extra for every 300 employees or part thereof.

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If the designated occupational first aider is absent from the place of work, what must the employer do?


If the occupational first aider is absent in temporary or exceptional circumstances, the employer may designate a person, to take charge of an injured or ill person until medical assistance is obtained. Such person’s functions, if they have not received training in basic life saving skills, would, primarily be to seek appropriate assistance as soon as possible and to ensure that nothing further is allowed to occur which would exacerbate the problems of the injured person.

Foreseeable absences such as planned annual leave are not considered “temporary or exceptional circumstances” In these situations the employer must ensure that there is an adequate number of trained occupational first aiders to cover the foreseeable absences or leave, if the need for an occupational first aider in the workplace has been identified.

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How is a first aider contacted?
There must be effective means of communication to contact the first aider when required, which will include a telephone/ mobile phone/ pager/ radio.

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How are the emergency services contacted?

The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the local emergency services must be clearly displayed in the workplace. Emergency plans and procedures must be in place and people designated and trained to implement them. It must be clear who makes contact with the emergency services.

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 How long is an occupational first aid training course?


 The PHECC FAR training course is not less than 18 contact hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.

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What is the retraining requirement?

For the PHECC FAR award, the refresher course is currently not less than 12 hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.

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When do occupational first aiders need additional training?

Occupational first aiders may need additional specialised training if a work place has employees exposed to any special hazards such as:

  • risk of poisoning by toxic substances, e.g. certain cyanides and related compounds
  • risk of burns from corrosive or oxidising substances, e.g. hydrofluoric acid
  • risk of accidental exposure to hazardous substances, e.g. toxic, irritant or asphyxiant gases, requiring oxygen for resuscitation
  • Other specific risks identified in the Safety Statement
  • Additional provisions in other regulations such as administration of oxygen

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What is the maximum number of learners/trainees to an instructor?

6 is the maximum at present for PHECC FAR. It is anticipated this will be increased to 1:8 very soon. This is to ensure learners have sufficient time to develop first aid skills. The instructor is required to have a mannequin and training AED for every 2 learners.

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Who does the first aid assessment?

For the PHECC FAR 3 day course and refresher course, the instructor does the assessment without the need for an examiner. 

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What type of a certificate does a first aider receive?

Learners receive a PHECC first aid response (FAR) certificate or refresher certificate.

The HSA recognises QQI OFA certificates for their full 2 year duration for any training delivered up to 31st May 2018.

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What happens if a first aider’s training lapses?

Where training for an occupational first aider lapses, PHECC FAR refresher training is required if the lapse is less than 30 days, otherwise the full 3 day training is required.  

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How long is certification valid for?

Occupational first aid certification is valid for 2 years after which refresher training is required.

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Are occupational first aid certificates from other countries valid in Ireland?

No -There are no mutual recognition agreements between Ireland and other countries on occupational first aid. Therefore occupational first aid certificates obtained in other countries are not transferable and are not valid in Ireland. In order to be a valid occupational first aider in Ireland, you must do the training in Ireland.

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What should be in a first aid box or travel kit?

The table below shows the recommended contents of first aid boxes and travel kits.

MaterialsFirst Aid Travel Kit Contents

First Aid Box

Contents

  1-10 persons11-25 persons26-50 persons*1
Adhesive Plasters20202040
Sterile Eye Pads (No. 16) (bandage attached)2224
Individually Wrapped Triangular Bandages2266
Safety Pins6666
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Medium (No. 8) (10 x 8cm's)1224
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Large (No. 9) (13 x 9cm's)1268
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Extra Large (No. 3) (28 x 17.5cm's)1234
Individually Wrapped Disinfectant Wipes10102040
Paramedic Shears1111
Examination Gloves Pairs351010
Sterile water where there is no clear running water*22x20mls1x500mls2x500mls2x500mls
Pocket Face Mask1111
Water Based Burns Dressing Small (10x10cm's)*31111
Water Based Burns Dressing Large*31111
Crepe Bandage (7cm )1123

Notes

*1: Where more than 50 persons are employed, pro-rata provision should be made.

*2: Where mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed disposable containers should be provided. Each container should hold at least 20ml and should be discarded once the seal is broken. Eye bath/eye cups/refillable containers should not be used for eye irrigation due to risk of cross infection. The container should be CE marked.

*3: Where mains tap water is not readily available for cooling burnt area.

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Is there some flexibility on the contents of boxes and kits?

The above Table provides a general guide on the recommended contents of occupational first aid boxes and kits based on numbers employed.  Quantities indicated in the Table are minimum numbers and can be increased. The requirements for sterile water and water based burns dressings as per note 2 and 3 above are only where there is not a wholesome supply of tap water available. Also a single paramedic shears and pocket face mask is considered adequate.

Occasionally the quantities indicated in the Table will be insufficient and the actual amounts required should be based on a risk assessment. An obvious example is that drivers of dangerous goods vehicles would require a quantity of 2x 500mls of sterile water for eye irrigation in their travel kits due to the risk of contact with hazardous chemicals.

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What first aid records and documentation need to be kept?

The names of occupational first aider must be recorded in the Safety Statement along with the location of the first aid rooms, equipment and facilities.

Written records of the dates of all first aid training, including refresher training should be kept at the workplace and be made available on request to the Health and Safety Inspector.

Records of all cases treated by the first aider should be kept in a suitable secure place, respecting their confidential nature and be made available on request to the Health and Safety Inspector.

The table below shows the details to be recorded.

Name of patientType of injuryTreatment givenName of occupational first aiderDate
     
     
     

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Can a first aider give out painkillers/headache tablets?

First aid does not cover the administration of drugs or medications and they should not be kept in the workplace first aid box or kit. In certain circumstances first aiders can assist in the administration of aspirin if available for suspected cardiac chest pain.

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What is an AED?

A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart muscle through the chest wall in order to restore a normal heart rate.

An automatic external defibrillator (AED) is a portable defibrillator designed to be automated such that it can be used by persons without substantial medical training who are responding to a cardiac emergency.

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Are occupational first aiders trained in the use of AED?

Yes, AED was part of the Cardiac First Response (CFR) Unit of the QQI Level 5 OFA and is part of the PHECC FAR standard and first aiders are trained in its use.

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Are employers required to have an AED?

No, but it would be good practice to have one.

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Do I have to have a first aid room at my workplace?

Premises must have one or more first aid rooms if the Safety Statement risk assessment shows that it is necessary and based on the following criteria:

  • Premises size
  • Type of activity being carried out
  • Frequency of accidents arising
  • Existence of special hazards
  • Distance from nearest appropriate medical facility.

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What should be considered when planning and designing first aid rooms?

A number of factors need to be considered when planning, designing and equipping first aid rooms:

  • Location to take account of proximity to work areas and access for transport to hospital
  • Sufficient size to include equipment
  • Entrance wide enough to accommodate ambulance trolley, stretcher
  • Impervious floor covering, with surfaces easy to clean
  • Sink facilities with hot and cold running water
  • Provision of telephone

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Recent Changes to Occupational First Aid (OFA)

What were the main changes to OFA on 31st October 2016?

The HSA ceased the operations of the Occupational First Aid Assessment Agent (OFAAA) on 31st October 2016. This means instructors could no longer go to OFAAA for assessment and that the OFAAA website was no longer in operation.

From 1st November 2016 to 31st May 2018, the HSA recognised both the QQI OFA Level 5 5N1207 and the PHECC FAR (first aid response) learner standards as meeting the needs of OFA training in workplaces.

What changed on 1st June 2018?

As and from 1st June 2018, the HSA only recognises PHECC FAR as meeting the needs of OFA in workplaces. This means that learners who undergo training from 1st June 2018 must complete a PHECC FAR full or refresher course. 

However any QQI OFA training which took place prior to 31st May 2018 will be recognised for the full 2 year duration from the date of training.

What do the changes mean for existing OFA instructors?

Existing instructors if they have not already done so, should become familiar with the PHECC FAR standard and instructor requirements. They should then apply to a PHECC FAR Instructor recognised institution (RI) to become a FAR instructor by recognition of prior learning (RPL). 

What do the changes mean for those wishing to become instructors for the first time?

Those wishing to become FAR instructors should visit the PHECC website and become familiar with the FAR standard and requirements to become a FAR instructor. They should then apply to a PHECC FAR Instructor recognised institution (RI) to become a FAR instructor.

What do the changes mean for learners?

The HSA recognised both the QQI OFA and PHECC FAR learner standards up to 31st May 2018.

Any learner who completed a QQI OFA full or refresher course up to 31st May 2018 will be recognised by the HSA as an occupational first aider for the full 2 year duration of their certificate.

From 1st June 2018, learners should only complete a PHECC FAR full or refresher course in order to be recognised by the HSA as an occupational first aider.

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