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Employee health and safety – life-saving should be on the workplace ‘curriculum’

Employee health and safety – life-saving should be on the workplace ‘curriculum’

The BMA has called for emergency life-saving skills to be included within the national curriculum and to be made mandatory within secondary schools. It wouldn’t hurt in more workplaces, too.

Employee health and safety – life-saving should be on the workplace ‘curriculum’

Past and future presidents of the British Medical Association came together in February to urge the House of Lords to support its call for life-saving skills to be made mandatory in schools in England, as they are elsewhere in Europe http://bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2014/february/get-life-saving-skills-on-the-curriculum-leading-women-urge

President-elect Baroness Finlay of Llandaff told fellow peers that life-saving skills should be mandatory in schools in England, as they are elsewhere in Europe.

She pointed out that, while 60,000 people a year have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, three-quarters of the general population are not trained to give basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation even though this can triple the chances of survival.

Baroness Finlay, who is set to become BMA president in June, said: “It is devastating for anyone, particularly a child, to see someone have a cardiac arrest in front of them and not know what to do.”

Her call was backed by former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, who also suggested that life-saving skills would offer these benefits and also contribute to character building in pupils.

Political debate

But schools minister Lord Nash maintained that it was up to schools to decide how and when pupils should learn emergency life support skills and said “this government believes as a matter of policy that prescription from the centre has not worked”.

Political point-scoring aside, few of us would probably object to there being greater awareness of and training around life-saving skills – after all, it could help us just when we need it.

And, while the suggestions made for greater training in schools are certainly laudable, why stop there? Why not extend the call to, say, workplaces?

Now, obviously, many employers, particularly bigger employers, do already have networks of trained first aiders in place.

 Duty of care

Employers also have a duty of care to have “appropriate” first aid in place, including as the Health and Safety Executive’s guidance has put it in its guidance, http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/what-employers-need-to-do.htm a “person appointed to take charge of first-aid arrangements such as calling the emergency services and stocking the first-aid box. The appointed person does not need specific first-aid training.”

Many occupational health departments also already offer training from time to time – and such courses are often popular. Yet the natural “churn” of employees seen in most organisations does mean it is all too easy for that knowledge to be lost or forgotten.

Whether, as with schools, the answer is go down a more prescriptive, mandatory route is a moot point and probably would not be the answer for most employers, given that it could then be seen as a burden rather than something positive.

Nevertheless, however you do it, the message for employers should be that there is value in encouraging more workplaces (particularly line and middle managers) to recognise that having trained first aiders on site is potentially something positive and “good business”.

Employers need to be encouraged to move beyond seeing first aid as being just a health and safety issue to be complied with; they need to recognise the reputational, wellbeing and potential “employer of choice” benefits it can also bring.

And if it helps to save lives, well that’ll definitely be a positive.

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Posted in Occupational health by OH Assist on the 28th April 2014

 
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