What is the First Aid at Work Certificate?

The Health and safety First Aid at Work Certificate is the UK’s official certification for anyone wishing to be a registered first aid provider in their workplace.

What is the HSE?

The Health and Safety Executive is a government body which oversees the provision of first aid and general health and safety requirements in the UK. Its jurisdiction covers all businesses as well as organised events such as marches, football matches and conferences.

The HSE has the power to fine companies, individuals and directors for any breaches under current health and safety regulations, the foremost of which is the 1989 Health and Safety Act.

What do you do to become First Aid at Work certified?

To get the F.A.W. (as it is commonly known), a person must attended a four day course in first aid at a registered provider. One of the largest commercial providers in the UK is the St John Ambulance organisation, as it has a number of skilled trainers.

The F.A.W. course covers a number of areas, typically:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS) – Using CPR and mouth to mouth techniques to aid victims of respiratory and cardiac arrests.

  • Bleeding – Using basic bandaging and wound care to stem bleeding and prevent infections.

  • Burns – Using appropriate treatments to deal with chemical, dry and other types of burns.

  • Fractures – Students will learn to stabilise fractures before more skilled help can arrive.

  • Head injuries – Having knowledge of concussion and compression, in order to recognise and treat these conditions properly.

  • Other conditions – Students learn the appropriate treatment for conditions such as anaphylaxis, epilepsy, seizures and internal bleeding.

  • Incident management – Students learn how to manage a casualty in a realistic situation, who may have multiple conditions, using the standard equipment they would have at work.

    At the end of the course students sit three multiple choice question papers, with a pass mark of 80%, then undergo three practical skill tests:

  • A CPR Exercise
  • Single patient incident management, typically consisting of one 'bleed', one limb fracture and shock
  • Putting a patient into the airway preserving recovery position

    The FAW must be revalidated with a 2 day course every 3 years, practical standards for reassesment are typically higher for the requalification than they are in the initial awarding of the certifcate (under the presumtion that the holder will have practiced their skills).

    Why do people want to get an FAW?

    There are typically three reasons for someone to want an FAW. The first of these is that all businesses must have an appointed first aid provider, so employers often pressure managers or employees into gaining the qualification.

    Secondly, a number of firms will pay individuals more if they have the FAW certificate. Employment prospects are also improved, particularly in factory environments where a level of first aid training can be invaluable.

    Finally, a large proportion of FAW holders have gained their qualification in order to work for voluntary organisations such as St John Ambulance and the Red Cross at public events. In these cases, holding the FAW and acting within training protects the user from greed.

  • www.sja.org.uk
  • www.hse.gov.uk
  • St John Ambulance FAW Course Manual
  • Personal Experiences as an FAW holder and active member of Loughborough LINKS, a unit of St John Ambulance.
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