This week, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has implemented changes to their First Aid at Work guidelines.

What’s changed?

These changes have been introduced to clarify certain terminology, but also to better highlight employers’ responsibilities to account for the mental health of their employees within in their first aid needs assessment.

Further technical changes to the document include:

  • A change to the term ‘catastrophic bleeding’ to ‘life-threatening bleeding’ and the inclusion of additional guidance on what employers should do if they identify this as a risk in their workplace.
  • Simplified guidance on first aid training providers.

What this means for your business

Put simply, you need to factor in whether any of the new inclusions affect you but give particular consideration to the mental health of your employees as part of your First Aid at Work provision.

This may mean training up appointed Mental Health First Aiders or taking a similar approach to comply with their recommendations in the new L74 booklet. The document itself gives employers a little flexibility in the approach where required providing that the standards are met.

The L74 guidelines say:

It may also be helpful to have people trained to identify and understand mental ill health symptoms who are able to support someone who is experiencing a mental health issue.

You may decide that someone with an FAW [First Aid at Work] or EFAW [Emergency First Aid at Work] qualification is already able to provide initial support and reassurance to a worker experiencing an acute mental health episode, but you should consider if any further training is required. You should be satisfied that they:

  • Know how to access professional help if necessary;
  • can act promptly, safely and effectively until that help is available.’

To take these changes into account, the HSE has also updated their recommendations and advice within the First Aid Needs Assessment table at the back of the L74 document, including recommendations and considerations that place the responsibility on employers to identify and manage the potential for mental health concerns in the workplace.

If you need more information on the changes or support, please email