First Aid in Churches
Churches, like all other organisations, need to comply with legislation however there is not a 'one size fits all' solution when it comes to first-aid. This is due to the range of church sizes and activities they put on.
The main legislation around first-aid is the Health and Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981. Although this only places obligations where there are employees it should be noted that volunteers and unpaid workers are categorised as employees. It therefore affects even the smallest church. The Act requires that provision is ‘adequate and appropriate’ and will depend on your circumstances based on a risk assessment The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has guidance which will help organisations assess their needs and a number of sample risk assessments are available from the British Red Cross. Remember that the risks, and the corresponding provision, will vary for different activities such as Sunday worship, lunch clubs and work days.
The minimum first-aid requirement for a low risk situation is:
- A suitably stocked first-aid kit. There is no mandatory list of what should be in the kit as this will depend on your risk assessment however for low level hazards the HSE list a minimum stock of first-aid items including a leaflet giving general guidance on first-aid. Premade first-aid kits for the workplace are readily available from many suppliers.
- An appointed person to take charge of first-aid requirements. This person does not need to be trained (where your risk assessment shows this not to be necessary) but they should be available to take charge if there is a problem. They are also responsible for ensuring the first-aid kit is stocked, and calling the emergency services where required. If they are not likely to be present at any times, then duties should be appointed to others.
- Information for ‘employees’ about first-aid arrangements. In a low risk situation, such as a church, this would just be a notice informing people where the first-aid kit is, the name and contact details for first-aider or appointed person.
Duties to the public
There are no statutory requirements relating to first-aid for members of the public including, for example, voluntary organisations running events for children but there are other duties.
Firstly, the HSE recommends provision for the public, and secondly there are common law obligations where there the volunteers take on parental responsibilities, such as at a children’s club, and need to provide the same level of care as a ‘reasonable parent’. In such situations, it is strongly recommended that there is a trained first-aider at children’s events especially where parents are absent. Other helpers should know what do if first-aid is required. Parental consent is required before first-aid can be given to someone under 16 so this should be a part of any registration form.
Churches should also check their public liability insurance as some polices may have a requirement for first-aid provision. Insurance policies are unlikely to be specific but may refer to other ‘best practice’ which should be followed to ensure you are not invalidating your insurance.
There is a lot of information available, some general and some specific to churches. Click on the links for further information.
First aid at work - Your questions answered, HSE
First aid and accident reporting, Church safety
Please note that the above should not be taken as legal advice but is intended as general guidance based on our understanding of the requirements.