We regularly get asked questions at Safety First Aid Training regarding the need for first aider insurance. Will I be sued if I practice first aid incorrectly? Do I require insurance to cover me treating someone? Based on the litigation-happy country we live in, these are understandable questions. In this article we will lay down some of the facts to make your options as a first aider clear.
No one in the U.K. has ever been sued for administering life-saving first aid. This statistic should alleviate initial concerns. Is there still a risk of litigation?
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 places an obligation on employers to ensure they have adequate first aid and first aider provision in the workplace. HSE standards set out the competencies that first aiders should be proficient in. Although the HSE will no longer be accrediting training providers from 1st October 2013 (subject to ministerial approval), these competencies will not change. Click here for more information on the proposed changes to HSE accrediting first aid training centres.
If you are a trained first aider in First Aid at Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) and you practice first aid in the workplace, you should be covered by your workplace insurance policy. It is worth asking your employer about what is covered in the workplace insurance policy. If you are not in working hours your workplace insurance policy is unlikely to cover you. There are insurance policies available that will cover a first aider outside working hours.
You could be held liable no matter if you are a trained first aider, a medical professional or a member of the public.
If you are a bystander and witness an incident that requires first aid, you are under no obligation to provide your services. However, as a trained first aider, you will have the skills to determine possible signs and symptoms, and if it is a life threatening situation, you can help to preserve life. Upon deciding to administer first aid out of the workplace, the individual will automatically assume a duty of care over the casualty.
Whilst there is not a law that forces first aid treatment of a casualty, you cannot simply leave a casualty you know is in danger. Failure to do anything may result in liable under ‘omission to act’. If you do not feel comfortable administering first aid as per your first aider training, you must follow this minimum procedure:
Alert the emergency services 999
Make the area safe without putting yourself in danger
Monitor the casualty carefully
Comfort and reassure the casualty
You will only be liable if negligent intervention directly causes injury to a casualty making them ‘worse off’ as a result.
If you decide to offer first aid out of the workplace, a good example of where negligence can occur could be administering CPR. If CPR is administered to a casualty that is not in cardiac arrest, resulting in damage to organs and chest, this could be proved as negligence. In this instance the casualty was not in need of treatment and the intervention directly caused injury making the casualty ‘worse off’.
If a casualty was in cardiac arrest and CPR was administered; if damage to organs and chest occurred, the person would not be ‘worse off’ from the injuries, so it would be difficult to prove negligence.
An AED will only deliver a shock to a person that requires one, so the use of an AED will not make a casualty ‘worse off’.
By attending a First Aid at Work (FAW) or an Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) course with Safety First Aid Training, you will be trained to nationally recognised standards and by an accredited HSE training provider. We teach the basic life-saving skills and will give you the confidence to administer first aid no matter what situation you are in. This will protect you from falling foul to any liable claim. No one in need of first aid should be denied the opportunity to receive treatment.
Click here to book a First Aid at Work course