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Are there minimum requirements for the duration of manual handling training courses for employees?

The Health and Safety Authority do not specify time duration for manual training courses. The duration of the training course should be tailored to the number and complexity of the handling procedures being taught. The employers must satisfy themselves that the instructor who delivers the course covers the relevant topics comprehensively.

How often do employees need refresher training?

Refresher training will be at intervals not more than every three years and when there is any major change in the work involved or equipment used or when an employee is transferred to another activity requiring different loads to be handled.

Why does manual handling result in a risk of injury or ill health?

Many of the problems that cause back pain are the result of injury and damage to a disc. Bending over results in pressure on the discs, and may also cause a disc to bulge backward towards the spine. Twisting and bending together put the greatest stress on the spine, especially on the discs, and are examples of work conditions that increase the risk of back injury.

Do I need to assess every manual handling task?

Manual Handling is a physical activity that takes place in every workplace, and in some cases the activity does not pose problem. However it can be a potential workplace hazard when an employee is required to handled very heavy loads, which could result in a back injury. The type of manual handling activity that needs to be assessed is defined in Regulation 68 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007:

“Manual Handling involves any transporting or supporting of any load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees.”

These characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions are the risk factors which are outlined in Schedule 3 of the 2007 Regulations and have the potential to cause harm.

The picture below illustrates a manual handling activity that would need to be addressed as part of the manual handling risk assessment process. A characteristic of the load that involves risk is the barrel weighing 80kg. An unfavourable ergonomic condition is the physical strain involved in having to lift such a load.

What legislation covers manual handling?

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007, Chapter 4 of  Part 2, outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to manual handling. The key requirements include:

  • Carrying out a manual handling risk assessment of existing manual handling tasks before making an informed decision on what manual handling tasks need to be avoided or reduced.
  • Organising tasks to allow the use of mechanical or other means to avoid or reduce the need for the manual handling of loads by employees in the workplace. The hazards can be avoided or reduced through the introduction of appropriate organisational measures for example improved layout of a work area to reduce unnecessary long carrying distances; or the use of appropriate means, in particular mechanical equipment.
  • Providing instruction and training to relevant staff.

Are first aid responders trained in the use of AED?

Yes, AED was part of the Cardiac First Response (CFR) Unit of the QQI Level 5 OFA and is part of the PHECC FAR standard and first aiders are trained in its use.

Are occupational first aid certificates from other countries valid in Ireland?

No – There are no mutual recognition agreements between Ireland and other countries on occupational first aid. Therefore occupational first aid certificates obtained in other countries are not transferable and are not valid in Ireland. In order to be a valid occupational first aider in Ireland, you must do the training in Ireland.

How long is certification valid for?

Occupational first aid certification is valid for 2 years after which refresher training is required.

What happens if a first aider’s training lapses?

Where training for an occupational first aider lapses, PHECC FAR refresher training is required if the lapse is less than 30 days, otherwise the full 3 days training is required.

What type of a certificate does a first aider receive?

Learners receive a PHECC first aid response (FAR) certificate or refresher certificate. The HSA recognises QQI OFA certificates for their full 2 year duration for any training delivered up to 31st May 2018.

Who does the first aid assessment?

For the PHECC FAR 3 day course and refresher course, the instructor does the assessment without the need for an examiner.

What is the maximum number of learners/trainees to an instructor?

6 is the maximum at present for PHECC FAR. It is anticipated this will be increased to 1:8 very soon. This is to ensure learners have sufficient time to develop first aid skills. The instructor is required to have a mannequin and training AED for every 2 learners.

When do occupational first aiders need additional training?

Occupational first aiders may need additional specialised training if a work place has employees exposed to any special hazards such as:

  • Risk of poisoning by toxic substances, e.g. certain cyanides and related compounds
  • Risk of burns from corrosive or oxidising substances, e.g. hydrofluoric acid
  • Risk of accidental exposure to hazardous substances, e.g. toxic, irritant or asphyxiant gases, requiring oxygen for resuscitation
  • Other specific risks identified in the Safety Statement
  • Additional provisions in other regulations such as administration of oxygen

What is the retraining requirement?

For the PHECC FAR award, the refresher course is currently not less than 12 hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.

How long is an occupational first aid training course?

The PHECC FAR training course is not less than 18 contact hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.

How are the emergency services contacted?

The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the local emergency services must be clearly displayed in the workplace. Emergency plans and procedures must be in place and people designated and trained to implement them. It must be clear who makes contact with the emergency services.

If the designated occupational first aider is absent from the place of work, what must the employer do?

If the occupational first aider is absent in temporary or exceptional circumstances, the employer may designate a person, to take charge of an injured or ill person until medical assistance is obtained. Such person’s functions, if they have not received training in basic life saving skills, would, primarily be to seek appropriate assistance as soon as possible and to ensure that nothing further is allowed to occur which would exacerbate the problems of the injured person.

Foreseeable absences such as planned annual leave are not considered “temporary or exceptional circumstances” In these situations the employer must ensure that there is an adequate number of trained occupational first aiders to cover the foreseeable absences or leave, if the need for an occupational first aider in the workplace has been identified.

Do I need a qualified first aider in my workplace?

A risk assessment in the context of the Safety Statement should consider the numbers employed, the nature of the work, the degree of hazard, the level of accidents arising, the size and location of the workplace, the distribution of the employees, shift working, availability of an occupational health service with the workplace and the distance and duration from external medical services etc.

Why do I need first aid training?

Whether the workplace is an office or a construction site, it has two common traits; valuable employees who may become injured or ill, and the need to protect them with adequate first aid procedures.