First aider or appointed person for first aid? What’s the difference?
Any company of a decent size will carry out a first aid needs assessment exercise at some point and, based on the result of that, will either nominate and have trained up a first-aider (may be more than one depending on company size) OR they will nominate an appointed person. The two roles are similar in some respects, but there are also marked differences.
The needs assessment might conclude that formally trained first-aiders are not necessary but there is still a requirement to appoint a person from within the existing staff to be a focal point for medical matters. By that, I mean that they will be responsible for the maintenance of the first aid box. Every company has a legal responsibility to provide the most basic of medical care items in case of minor injuries at work. Examples would be sticking plasters, basic dressings, safety pins etc. As items are taken out the appointed person will be responsible for replenishment of the supplies.
Additionally they will be the person who calls out the emergency services when necessary. Although no training courses are mandatory for this role they could choose to attend emergency first aid courses anyway. After all, there might be a requirement to not only open the first aid box, but also to help someone in trouble. This could only be of the most basic kind of care though – there is no question of an appointed person being required to practice something like CPR in the case of a suspected heart attack. Such situations should only be dealt with by trained first aiders.
One other responsibility of the appointed person is to maintain the Accident Book – a record of any minor injuries or illnesses sustained at work by any of the staff.
Trained First aider
Formal training courses are available for people designated to give first aid in the work place and certificates are awarded to prove that a basic level of competency has been achieved. This would enable the nominated person to carry out basic first aid techniques designed to make a person comfortable before the emergency services arrive. While administering drugs orally or by injection is not allowed the first aider could certainly help the person to take prescribed medicines if necessary.
An example of this might be assisting someone to swallow tablets by holding them steady and giving them a glass of water. Asthmatics could be helped to use their inhaler if they become slightly disabled by their condition. Equally giving something like an adrenaline injection would also be acceptable in cases where life is threatened and in the absence of trained paramedics.
There are a number of things that a trained first aider can do, but they must always take care not to overreach themselves or, even more importantly, not to put a work colleague at risk in any way.