St John Ambulance is urging employers to ensure a duty of care to both staff and customers in the event of an emergency, rather than being fearful of legal action after giving first aid.

It comes after bystanders reported that staff at a rail company were allegedly unable to offer medical assistance to a commuter who collapsed at a Hertfordshire railway station*. A recent study by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) also showed a rise in injuries to passengers using the railways and the tube**.


Sue Skoyles, Regional Training Manager for St John Ambulance training in the East, said ‘No one should suffer because they needed first aid and didn’t get it. Workplaces have a legal duty of care to both staff and customers. Employers should assess the risks and train staff to deal with situations that are likely to occur. In the case of a train or transport company, their staff should be equipped to know how to deal with passengers who need their help.


‘We know that sometimes individuals or companies are mistakenly fearful of legal action after giving first aid but this has no grounding. In fact, companies have more to fear by not providing appropriate first aid cover. Companies need to ensure enough people are trained in first aid. It could be the difference between lives lost and lives saved.’


The Health and Safety Regulations require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. The regulations do not place a legal duty on employers to make first aid provision for non-employees such as the public[3] or children in schools[4]. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends that non-employees are included in an assessment of first aid needs and that provision is made for them.


St John Ambulance helps employers fulfil their responsibility of making sure that their staff have access to first aid in the workplace and provides simple, practical steps and advice to help employers make sense of health and safety regulations.