For many new business owners, company formations can feel sufficiently bound in red tape without overly burdensome health and safety regulations also proving a cause for concern. Such businesses are therefore likely to welcome the latest news that as of 1 October 2013, they can now enjoy greater flexibility with regard to the management of their provision of workforce first aid, thanks to altered health and safety regulations.

The latest amendment to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 removes the need for first aid qualifications and training to be first approved by Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The aim of the change, HSE has said, is to lessen the burden on businesses and reintroduce some “common sense” to health and safety, while leaving standards intact. Businesses of all sizes, as well as across the sectors, benefit from the changes.

The alteration comes after two periods of public consultation, as well as the November 2011 publication of a report on health and safety legislation by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt. This report recommended the amendment on the basis that the previous requirement appeared “to have little justification provided the training meets a certain standard.” It was also pointed out in the report that the then HSE approval process exceeded the minimum requirements of EU legislation.

Andy McGrory, HSE’s policy lead for First Aid, commented: “HSE no longer approves first-aid training and qualifications. Removing the HSE approval process will give businesses greater flexibility to choose their own training providers and first aid training that is right for their work place, based on their needs assessment and their individual business needs.”

However, this is not to suggest that businesses can in any way choose to ignore first aid health and safety considerations after company formation. McGrory reminded employers of their continuing legal duty to make arrangements to ensure that employees injured or taken ill at work receive immediate attention.

Those business owners that have recently a company formation service and that would like to learn about the regulations and identify a competent training specialist should peruse the HSE website. There, they can find information on the amendment and their wider health and safety obligations, including a regulation document and accompanying guidance document.

The standards for training will also still be set by HSE, although employers should have less to worry about after company formation as a result of the amendment, the building blocks for first aid training remain the one day Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) and three day First Aid at Work (FAW) courses.