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18th May 2017

First aid requirements in dental practices

In accordance with The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. It doesn’t matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do, what is important is that they receive immediate attention and that an ambulance is called in serious cases. First aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones. First aid provision in the workplace covers the arrangements that need to be made to manage injuries or illness suffered at work.

Dental practice owners should make an assessment of first aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks). The aim of first aid is to reduce the effects of injury or illness suffered at work, whether caused by the work itself or not. First aid provision must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’. This means that sufficient first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be available at all times, to give immediate assistance to casualties with both common injuries or illnesses and those likely to arise from specific hazards at work, summon an ambulance or other professional help.

Where an employer provides first-aiders in the workplace, they should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first-aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. Typically, first-aiders will hold a valid certificate of competence in either first aid at work (FAW) or emergency first aid at work (EFAW). EFAW training enables a first-aider to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work. FAW training includes EFAW and also equips the first-aider to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses.

If the dental practice has fewer than five workers you should have an appointed person to look after first-aid equipment and facilities and call the emergency services when required. An appointed person does not need first-aid training. With more than five workers you may consider having at least one person trained in basic ‘emergency first aid at work’ (EFAW) (a one day course). Larger practices with more than 50 workers must have at least one first-aider (FAW) in the workplace (3 days of training). The Health and Safety Executive recommends that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training.

The minimum first aid provision on any work site is a suitably stocked first aid kit, an appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements and information for employees about first aid arrangements. The first aid kit should be checked regularly to ensure all items present and in date. A white cross on a green background is a mandatory sign for the location of the first aid kit.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Raj Majithia

Dental Specialist M.Clin.Dent, FFGDP, BDS, LDSRCS, MJDF (UK), DPDS

Raj is in General Dental Practice in London. His other current posts are Associate Dean of Postgraduate Dentistry at Health Education England – London where he is responsible for remediation of dentists in difficulty, quality assurance of Dental Foundation training practices and assessment of Dental Foundation equivalence for overseas qualified dentists. Raj has been the Crisis Management in Medical Emergencies Tutor and Postgraduate Dental Tutor at Northwick Park Dental Education Centre and West Middlesex Hospital.

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