First Aid

I was wondering if the spaces would consider having an appointed first aider.

Do you have a defibrillator?

Even though we are all non-employees would you consider the HSE regulations apply?


Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are normally only installed in places where there is a higher incidence of elderly people or those more likely to have heart issues, but increasingly places like transport hubs, shopping areas and schools are maintaining an AED on site.

That said AEDs are only suitable for a very specific heart issue, I’m not a doctor but from my training I think it’s VF (ventricular fibrillation). So in other words it can’t treat every situation which is where CPR and First Aid at Work training can be helpful to treat the person until medical professionals can turn up with more extensive training.

First Aid

Makerspace discovered that HSE treats volunteers who do the work of staff as employees even though they are unpaid, so it’s not completely clear how a community workshop would staff first aiders, but they should probably have someone trained, especially for public events.

As a director you should think about the types of injuries that could happen when your risk assessments fail, you are looking at trips, slips, fall from height, crushing, cutting, electrocution, burning, respiratory, eye injuries and pre-existing medical conditions.

Thats a very broad spectrum of injuries which require different treatments really not sure how a space could provide full-time first aider training.

It’s possibly worth talking to HSE they are apparently very helpful.

Difficult to see how that might work.
A first aider might (and perhaps should) be present at open events but during normal operation it’s impossible for there to be a first aider present at all times.
We should rather encourage members to take responsibility for their own health and safety and not to undertake excessively risky activities.

It could be argued that spaces should have fire wardens but the same difficulties present.

Swansea’s approach has been to have a designated first aider for events, but to make it very clear (both on paper and in person) that anyone in the space outside of those events is responsible for their own safety. There is a first aid kit in the space for anyone who needs it, and an accident book.

With regards to fire wardens, we recently had an inspection from the local fire service. Fire wardens weren’t explicitly required, but outside organised events we have to make sure all of our members are aware of the need to check toilets etc on the way out. This means getting our members to sign and acknowledge the fire safety policy/risk assessment document which (now) contains that information.

There is more nuance to the situation than that. It is not true that all volunteers are considered employees - the exact definition of an “employee” is not made clear in legislation and it would be the decision of a court based on the character of the relationship.

If members were considered employees then it would be the space’s legal responsibility to provide PPE, employer’s liability insurance, proper training, trained first aiders who are always present, etc.

It would be fairly unworkable to run a hackspace under this assumption and it is my opinion that members are not employees. (There are still obligations to non-employees under s3 of the HSWA and occupier’s liability, and the HSE’s guidance is still useful, if not mandatory, in those respects.)

I received advice from a retired HSE inspector a few years ago who said “given the direction money travels I would definitely say members are not employees.”

1 Like

Swindon has taken a similar approach to Swansea, albeit we don’t currently require members to sign anything explicit - @tom.lake would be interested to read your policy doc, see if it’s something we could/would reuse.

Where I’d like to get to one-day is some additional measures:

  • A published list of trained first aiders
  • A relationship with a local agency that can provide first aid training at a discount for interested members (e.g. St Johns)
  • consistent/formal risk assessments and notices on HSE provisions for events