Research by the first aid organisation the St John Ambulance has highlighted that workplace accidents in many British workplaces are affected by poor provision of first aid facilities by employers.
The survey revealed that 80% of British workers are working in workplaces that have no first aid cover at all. Half of the employers contacted in the survey were discovered to have no organised method of providing first aid cover.
Despite improvements to health and safety in the workplace over the last two or three decades and a gradual drop in the number of accidents and injuries at work, a significant number of employees are still at risk every year.
As might be expected, the most accident prone of jobs are in the agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors. It was calculated that just over half of accidents took place when another worker or colleague was nearby or at the scene of the accident and first aid training or provision could have been useful in minimising the extent of the injuries.
Those workers involved in mining, manufacturing and education closely followed in terms of the importance of having first aid training when an accident took place in their workplaces.
St John’s survey showed that less than 20% of workers had much of a clue of even the most rudimentary first aid procedures and reported that this could make the difference between life and death or the consequences of a serious injury happening.
St John’s Director of Training and Marketing, Richard Evens, said that every worker should be able to feel that they are working in a safe environment and the fact that a third of workers surveyed feel afraid that they are not working in a workplace with adequate first aid coverage is a real concern.
St John has launched a nationwide campaign to increase awareness and action by employers to provide adequate first aid coverage and ensure that sufficient employees are provided with training in first aid techniques. The organisation has emphasised that the numbers of first aiders must be enough to cover for sickness and holidays so that there are always sufficient first aid trained workers on site.
The organisation has calculated that a similar number of people die each year in Britain – 140,000 – from the lack of availability of first aid facilities as the number of people who die from cancer. Only a minority of this number are injured at work, of course, but the number is also a reflection of the much larger number of people who suffer from injuries that could be minimised by adequate first aid provision at work.