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When is the best time to refresh your first aid skills?


One colleague listening to another to depict what mental health first aid may look like
“…first aid training does not last forever. That knowledge and the ability to apply it over time can fade.”


Meeting the requirement for first aid cover sounds simple. Ensure you have enough tools, such as first aid kits, and make sure you have enough people who know first aid, job done. And you just need to repeat the process every three years. However, if you speak to your first aiders, first hand, you may hear another story. This is why it is wise to recognise that initial first aid training does not last forever. That knowledge and the ability to apply it over time can fade.

The HSE recommends that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training, over half a day, during any three-year certification period. Although not mandatory, this will help qualified first-aiders maintain their basic skills and keep up to date with any changes to first-aid procedures. At STS First Aid, we completely agree, so please take a look at more detail on our refresher courses.

Why people need refresher training.

How many opportunities are first aiders given to build on their knowledge? Depending on your work environment, it is unlikely that First Aiders will be having to use their training everyday or even every month. It’s probably something that we hope we never have to use but this doesn’t mean we should let our skills slip.

The last thing we want is, when faced with a sudden injury to a colleague, you realise that your memory has faded slightly and also applying skills in practice is entirely different. Emergencies such as administering CPR or dealing with a serious wound can require immediate action. But they can also be intimidating, once you are put on the spot. So, an important question to ask is how confident are you or your first aiders in their abilities to act in a given emergency?

If you are not practicing, you can forget. Taking refresher courses can help systematically recall and reinforce previously acquired knowledge and skills.

First aid practice changes.

The Coronavirus pandemic made it clear how important it is to stay up-to-date with the latest facts and information. For instance, when the virus began, many had no idea whether it was still okay to administer first aid, when doing so would put yourself at risk of transmission of the virus.

Fortunately, first aid training bodies and the government have come out with clear guidelines on how to handle these situations. It’s essential that your first aiders have this knowledge and are aware of any other changes to how first aid is administered.

Is refresher training legally required?

There are two types of first aid training that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises: Emergency First Aid at Work and First Aid at Work. Both of these certificates last for a period of three years.

There is no explicit legal requirement that either type of training be refreshed. However, employers are legally bound to ensure first aiders remain competent with adequate skills to address the first aid needs of the working environment. As mentioned above, the HSE recommends refresher courses are taken at least annually.

Failure to ensure certificates are up-to-date and adequate first aid cover is provided is a breach of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981.

Ensure your first aiders know what they are doing.

While the law only requires you to refresh training once every three years, it’s clear that this may not be enough. After all, what is the likelihood that you can recall information that you were given once over a few days, three years ago!

How to renew first-aid certificate.

The renewal process of first aid training is quite simple and straightforward. The certificate can be renewed 90 days before expiry and will become active after the expiration of the old one. However, if the old one has expired, the designated person must attend the entire course again within 28 days after expiry. If you are unsure, just call one of STS First Aid’s experts on 0208 211 2054 and they can guide you through the process.

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