First Aid and Food Safety: Are you compliant?

Similar to Food Safety (HACCP), First aid is essential for every workplace and is a legal requirement under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. First Aid knowledge is invaluable for both you as the individual Food Business Owner but also for your fellow co-workers and for general work place safety in your food business. It ensures you are able to assist persons who become injured in the event of an accident or emergency situation until help arrives from the paramedics.

According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA), a qualified first aider is required in your work place. 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. If you have a maximum number of employees at any one time of between 0-49 1 person is required. If you go beyond 150 employees 2 persons are required to have certified first aid training.

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. In general, employees usually certify 3-4 members of staff to ensure that there is always someone on site certified in Occupational First Aid.

There are specific requirements on Occupational First Aid made under Chapter 2 of Part 7 of the General Application Regulations 2007. A very good guidance document published by the HSA can be downloaded from this link:


It is important to note that since the 1st June 2018, the HSA only recognises the PHECC FAR standard as meeting the needs of occupational first aid in workplaces. Any QQI OFA training completed prior to 1st June 2018 will be recognised for the full 2 years duration from the date of training. The requirement for refresher training involving a second day is also being reviewed but will take longer to resolve.

A case study to highlight the importance of occupational first aid occurred when The Food Safety Company recently had just finished a training course. A staff member who attended the course worked in a Newbridge restaurant and saved a woman’s life with a newly learned first aid technique. The staff member who works at Edward Harrington & Sons on the main street of Newbridge administered the Heimlick Manouvere to save the woman’s life where she began to choke in the middle of the restaurant. By performing this life changing manoeuvre, he was able to remove the blockage in her throat.


A major campaign by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in recent months has highlighted the need for food businesses to be fully compliant with the allergen regulations namely Regulation 1169/2011 On The Provision of Food Information to Consumers and Statutory Instrument S.I. No. 489/2014 – Health (Provision of Food Allergen Information to Consumers in respect of Non-Prepacked Food). This nation-wide campaign was in part due to an FSAI audit in 2017 in which 50 random food businesses where audited for compliance in the above regulations. The audit highlighted that 32% did not provide written allergen information, 52% were not to have allergen information which was inaccurate or incomplete, 88% required corrective action and shockingly 12% did not require corrective action. To put the risk of someone having an allergic reaction down to poorly identified allergen information in a food business, around one third of the UK population, that’s approximately 19 million people, will develop an allergy at some time in their lives. A significant proportion of these, around a million people, suffer from severe allergies and associated symptoms.


Pharmacist Sarah Chambers administered two life-saving adrenaline injections on a seventeen-year old who was entering an anaphylactic shock on Grafton Street. Ms Chambers said: “The patient explained that the last time she had an allergic reaction to nuts was when she was aged four.  She displayed characteristic symptoms of anaphylactic shock including a rash and swollen lips and so we immediately called an ambulance. I then administered two adrenaline pens and stayed with her to monitor her condition until the ambulance arrived.” The girl was then taken to hospital and made a full recovery.


Towards the end of 2015, the then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar signed new laws allowing members of the public who have first aid training to administer life-saving rescue medications in emergency situations. In regard to emergencies with anaphylaxis shock, trained public citizens in first aid can administer the following adrenaline auto-injectors such as epipens, anapen, jext, emerade etc for severe allergic reactions. Organisations such as colleges, workplaces and sports venues will be allowed to hold these medicines and arrange for staff to be trained in their use under the new regulations. Between 2007 to 2013 CSO figures show that a total of 4 people died in Ireland from anaphylaxis due to allergens during this period.


To ensure you are fully compliant with allergen regulations, please go the following links:

If you require staff members to hold a certificate in first aid, please email our consultant Clodagh Hegarty to book the training sessions.


Further references:

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