What do churches need to think about when it comes to first aid requirements on a Sunday and for regular clubs and church events?
Regardless of the legal requirements, churches would do well to arrange for some of their members to be trained in first aid. Not only would this be useful to serve the people in your church, but it also enables your church to care for those people attending regular clubs and occasional events.
Through sending some church members for first aid training, you can be a blessing not only to your church but also to your community.
Is there a legal requirement to provide first aid?
The only obligation to provide first aid is the duty contained in the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, which stipulates that employers must provide adequate first aid provision for their employees. So, if your church employs staff, you need some form of first aid provision for them. While the law does not require employers to provide first aid for the public, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly advise employers to do so.
What do I need to do to provide first aid for our employees?
The HSE says that employers should assess the first aid needs of their employees. The minimum provision for a workplace, which would apply for most offices, is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements and have a suitably stocked first-aid box.
What you need to provide depends on what sort of hazards you have in your place of work and how many people you employ. It’s worth noting that if your employees spend time working at home, the HSE says you should ‘consider’ issuing personal first-aid kits and mobile phones to them. If you are unsure what level of provision is sufficient for your church, the HSE has produced a leaflet which has lots of good information in it. This leaflet also tells you what a first-aid kit should contain.
How about first aid for children’s activities?
When parents leave their children with volunteers or church employees, then they stand in the place of the parents. This means they need to provide the same level of care and attention to the children in their care as a reasonable parent would.
Of course, parents don’t need to have first-aid training to look after their own children. However, given that we have a duty to look after the children in our churches’ care, we strongly recommend that there is at least one trained first aider in every church activity specifically aimed at children, and that all leaders/helpers are made aware of what to do in a first aid situation.
You will also need to get consent from parents to administer first aid. You should make sure that you obtain parental consent for every child attending a church activity at which the parents are not present. There are data protection implications for collecting this information, so make sure your form is also compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (May 2018). See our article Data Protection Law and Your Church for more information about GDPR.
What about first aid at church events?
What first aid provision do we need for church events such as outreach events or carol services? Generally, there is no obligation on anyone to assist another person who is in need of medical attention; there is no “Good Samaritan” rule requiring members of the public to help other members of the public. However, the Health and Safety Executive strongly recommends that employers make provision for members of the public in their first aid. This is particularly pertinent for churches because many of their events are specifically tailored towards members of the public. We would be loving our neighbours well, therefore, if we have a trained first aider present at such events.
What else do I need to think about?
Insurance – You should check your church’s public liability insurance to see if it says anything about first aid. If your policy requires your church to follow ‘best practice’, then you need to be aware that it may refer to an organisation such as The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) for what constitutes best practice. The CCPAS guidelines state that churches should have trained first aiders for every event involving children.
Consent - The NHS advises that “people aged 16 or over are entitled to consent to their own treatment and parents can’t overrule this.” So, with a person over 16, you should get consent before administering first aid. Where the person is unconscious trained first aiders can assume that the person would ask for help if they were conscious in relation to life threatening injuries. This article about Duty of Care has more information on this and carries the reassurance that no-one has ever been sued in the UK for administering life-saving first aid.
Our Advice Line is provided for FIEC churches by Edward Connor Solicitors.
Edward Connor Solicitors is a registered charity (charity number 1175305) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (company number 10821224). Its registered office is at 39 The Point, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7QU. It is registered for VAT (number GB 277792346). It is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (number 640691).