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The UK Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 makes it a legal requirement for employers to delegate a team of employees in the workplace to administer first aid. These selected employees need to complete first aid training to ensure they are confident and able to administer first aid when it is necessary. If your organisation does not designate and train a team of first aiders in the workplace, then the organisation could be subject to investigation from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
First aid in the workplace
It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure health and safety is maintained in the workplace, and this involves appointing specific individuals as first aiders and investing in their training. The number of first aiders in the workplace will depend on the size of your organisation, the larger the organisation, the more first aiders you will need to appoint.
If your employer fails to delegate a team of first aiders in the workplace, they are neglecting the UK Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 and this must be reported to the HSE.
If your organisation does not provide first aid it can have a damaging affect on the morale of the employees. Ultimately, employees will feel undervalued if their safety is not prioritised by the employer and this could encourage workers to leave and find a better workplace environment.

First aid training
The chosen employees responsible for first aid will be enrolled into a first aid training course. The first aid training course must be specific to your type of workplace environment. There are low-risk first aid courses and high-risk first aid courses for workplace environments which are more hazardous, such as laboratories handling hazardous chemical substances.
First aid training will teach the chosen employees how to identify specific illnesses and injuries, how to use life-saving skills and how to use a first aid kit appropriately. Moreover, these trained first aiders will be responsible for ensuring the first aid kits are maintained.
When an organisation fails to comply with UK health and safety legislation, the consequences can be severe. The HSE reported that the total amount of fines handed out for health and safety offences rose to £72.6 million in 2017/18, this was following a rise in the amount of fines handed out to UK organisations across two years.
The HSE has the power to investigate organisations which they suspect are not adhering to health and safety standards. Following an investigation, if there is sufficient evidence that the employer has neglected first aid and health and safety, then the HSE can prosecute the organisation. Prosecution and fines will ultimately tarnish the reputation of an organisation and can affect the way people perceive the company in the future.
If an injury occurs in the workplace and your organisation does not have trained first aiders on site, the injured individual could become seriously hurt as a result. Therefore, by having qualified and trained first aiders in the workplace, you can reduce the effects which incidents can have on the wellbeing of those around you.

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You should call 999 when you require the urgent assistance of medical professionals, the police or the fire service to help you in a state of emergency. The NHS provide alternative helplines for situations which are not classed as emergencies but require some minor assistance. The UK’s emergency services’ time is valuable, and therefore it is important to know when – and when not – to call 999.

When should you call 999?

Call 999 if a medical emergency, a crime or a fire has taken place and you require urgent additional help. Consequently, extra assistance and equipment will arrive to a scene where the surrounding people cannot act appropriately.

Medical Emergencies

A medical emergency constitutes a situation where an individual’s life is at risk and it cannot be helped or controlled by those at the scene. By calling 999, an ambulance will be sent to the scene to provide medical care and attention.

Medical emergencies can include: Heart attacks, burns, difficulty breathing, seizures, fits, loss of consciousness, continuous bleeding and severe injuries.


If a crime has taken place, call 999 to alert the police and they will send essential people to the scene to assist the situation.


If a fire is taking place and cannot be controlled by those at the scene, calling 999 will alert the fire service to arrive at the scene and control the situation.

What happens when you call 999?

When you call 999 in the case of a medical emergency, the following steps will take place:

  1. An operator will ask you which emergency service you need: Ambulance, police or fire services.
  2. You will need to supply the following information: Your location, phone number and what has happened.
  3. You will then supply some extra information whilst assistance is on its way: Patient’s age, gender, medical history, consciousness, breathing, symptoms of bleeding or pain and extra details of what has happened.
  4. The operator will then explain how you can help the patient whilst assistance is on the way.

When shouldn’t you call 999?

Do not call 999 if the medical issue is not life-threatening, and therefore does not require additional medical assistance straight away.

In a situation where an individual has experienced an injury, but is not in severe pain and it can be handled by the first aiders in the surrounding area, the 111 helpline can be called.

111 is the NHS helpline which should be called if you require extra information about an incident or if you need reassurance regarding a medical issue. If 111 believe an individual’s symptoms are slightly worrying, they will send an ambulance to you or ask if someone can drive you to A and E.

There have been cases where people have called 999 with false allegations, and this has potentially serious consequences. Committing a crime such as this, which uses up the valuable time of our emergency services, is disorderly conduct. Therefore, it is important to educate those around us regarding the importance of respecting our emergency services and their valuable time.

Knowledge of how to use the 999 helpline properly is essential, particularly in the workplace when you have the responsibility of many people around you.

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The NHS 111 helpline is for those in the UK who are seeking medical advice and enquiries regarding illness and injuries which are not life-threatening and therefore do not require immediate attention from 999 services. Our emergency services have limited resources and time, so if everyone makes a concerted effort to call the right helplines, it will ensure our services have the capability to attend to all enquiries and incidents.
When should you call 111?
Call 111 if you have a medical problem, which does not appear to be urgent, but you are unsure of what to do. For example:

  • If you are experiencing an illness or injury which you have not experienced before.
  • If you are unsure whether your medical condition requires you to go to A and E.
  • You need to enquire about your medical symptoms, which you don’t consider to be urgent.
  • You don’t have a GP to call and require some medical advice.

What happens when you call 111?
By calling 111 you will be sent through to a fully trained medical advisor, and you can expect the following steps:

  1. The fully trained medical advisor will ask you questions about your symptoms, such as: Do you feel sick, do you have significant chest pain, do you feel confused?
  2. The adviser will assess your medical situation by analysing your symptoms.
  3. Depending on your assessment, the advisor will inform you on the following:
  • A local service which can help you
  • A medical appointment if you need one
  • Medicine which you could take to help ease your symptoms
  • An ambulance will be sent to you if your symptoms are urgent
  • You will be asked if someone can drive you to a nearby A and E service if your symptoms are urgent

What is the difference between 111 and 999?
The fundamental difference between 111 and 999 is that 999 is for life-threatening emergencies.
If someone appears to be seriously ill or injured, call 999. This can include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Choking
  • Fitting
  • Drowning
  • Chest pain

When an individual does not appear to have a life-threatening injury or illness, call 111.
It is important to circulate the difference between the 111 and 999 helplines around the workplace, as this will ensure that we are all making an effort to value the time of emergency services. Consequently, our emergency services will have more time to consult and assist each enquiry and incident as best as they can.

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The aftermath of an explosion can be chaotic and frightening, but it is important for those in the surrounding area to try and remain as calm as possible. The aftermath of an explosion can involve physical and mental injury to the health of those involved, restoration of affected buildings, and pollution of the surrounding environment. Consequently, there is a range of serious effects which you can expect in the aftermath of an explosion.

Why do explosions occur?

Explosions occur due to three different types of explosive substances, which can be: Chemical, Mechanical and Nuclear.

Chemical Explosions: Chemical explosions occur due to exothermic reactions, allowing the rapid expansion of gas which forms a shock wave. There are two types of chemical explosives:

High-order Explosives: High-order explosives such as dynamite create huge, destructive shock waves, which can have serious consequences.

Low-order Explosives: Low-order explosives, such as gunpowder, create an explosion but lack the over-pressurization wave which high-order explosives create.

Mechanical Explosions: A mechanical explosive requires a physical reaction to occur within a high-pressure gas in a container, which eventually expands beyond the limit of the container’s tensile strength, resulting in the container bursting due to the explosion.

Nuclear Explosions: A nuclear explosion occurs due to either a fusion or fission reaction, which releases a large amount of heat and gas very quickly. Fusion and fission reactions are used within nuclear bombs, which are created with the intention to create vast amounts of destruction.

What happens in the aftermath of an explosion?


Sadly, those who are close to an explosion can suffer very serious injuries, which require immediate medical attention and are often fatal. The severity of injuries suffered by those in the surrounding area can change due to a number of factors, including the size of the explosion, the distance away from the explosion and the amount of material involved.

Typically, injuries from explosions include:

  • Blast lung
  • Abdominal haemorrhage and perforation
  • Bowel perforation
  • Eye rupture
  • Eye penetration
  • Closed and open brain injury
  • Burns
  • Crush injuries
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Traumatic amputation
  • Cuts

The impact on the mental health of those who were involved is also severe. There could be post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety moving forward.

Reconstruction of damaged buildings

The buildings which have been blown up or damaged as a result will need to be accessed, to ensure there are no people remaining beneath the rubble. Moreover, there will then be plans to clear up the destruction and a decision as to whether the affected buildings will be rebuilt. This will affect human and economic activity massively. The aftermath of an explosion creates an extensive restoration project.

Environmental impact

An explosion will certainly have an impact on the surrounding environment due to the harmful chemicals, materials, gases and fumes which are involved.

The surrounding atmosphere, soil and vegetation is affected by the chemicals, fumes and substances which are released during an explosion. The United States Army have estimated that over 1.2 million tonnes of soil have been contaminated with explosives on training grounds alone.

On the 21st September 2001, shortly after the devastation of 9/11 in New York, an explosion occurred at the AZF chemical factory in Toulouse, France. The AZF plant experienced an explosion in hangar 221, where ammonium nitrate was stored. It has been reported that the explosion measured 3.4 on the Richter scale and was heard up to 50 miles away. Sadly, 31 people died and thousands were injured. The cause of the explosion at the AZF factory has been contested. Some suggest it was a terrorist attack, some suggest it was due to a chemical reaction between two chemical products at the plant.

The aftermath of explosions can be frightening for those involved and therefore it is important to understand the range of effects that explosions can have upon individuals and the environment.

When faced with an explosion, it can be frightening and chaotic. However, if you are aware of some simple steps which could help to keep you safe, it will help you to react quickly and appropriately. Explosions can happen without any warning and therefore it is in your best interest to consider how you could respond.

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive have acknowledged that some workplace environments present a greater risk of potential explosions due to the dangerous substances and explosive atmosphere present in the workplace. Therefore, the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR) 2002 establish what employers must do to prepare for potential fire and explosion risks in the workplace.

According to DSEAR, an explosive atmosphere involves a mixture of dangerous substances with the air, which can potentially catch fire or explode. If this reaction occurs within a confined space, such as a plant, the rapid spread of flames or rise in pressure can create an explosion. Therefore, it is important for those who work in explosive atmospheres to understand how to act if an explosion does occur, as well as ordinary people who might encounter an explosion when simply walking down the street.

How to protect yourself during an explosion

Explosions offer us little to no warning and therefore it is hard to fully prepare for an explosion and how it will impact you, physically and mentally. However, you can make yourself aware of certain steps which could be used to keep you as safe as possible:

  • Try to find some shelter and security if rubble is falling around you, such as a sitting beneath a sturdy table.
  • If there is a fog of smoke emerging, remain close to the floor.
  • Move away from doors, windows, or anything which could potentially blast open.
  • If you are trapped beneath rubble, try to bang on anything close by to you, or use a light from your phone to grab attention. As a last resort, call for help.
  • Do not use elevators as an exit strategy.

Keep an emergency kit near you

Although you cannot anticipate when an explosion will occur, if you have an emergency kit nearby, it could help you to aid yourself and those around you before medical help arrives. This emergency kit could be stored in your car or in your house, and could include:

  • First aid kit with essentials, such as bandages, sterilising wipes and eye patches.
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Spare money

In November 2019, a series of explosions took place at Port Neches, a chemical plant in Texas, which resulted in 60,000 being evacuated from their homes. TPC Group is a chemical plant which makes products for chemical and petroleum companies, and therefore deals with dangerous substances. The organised evacuation of those living nearby was done to mitigate the risks that this explosion could have had on their health. The initial reports which followed the explosion stated that it was unknown why the explosion took place, but three employees were injured as a result of the explosions.

Explosions can be daunting and frightening, and therefore knowing how to respond in order to remain safe is important.

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The effects of an explosion can vary depending on the type of explosion that has taken place. Explosions can be chemical, mechanical and nuclear, and all three types of explosion can seriously affect the people, the atmosphere and the surrounding infrastructure. The effects of an explosion persist for many years due to the disruption which has been caused. Therefore, understanding the effects which explosions have is important.


Explosions can inflict severe physical and emotional injuries on the individuals who sadly suffer their effects. The severity and fatality of the injury can change due to the distance which an individual is from the explosion and the type of explosion which has taken place.
The injuries encountered following an explosion are referred to as ‘blast injuries’. Blast injuries can be characterised into primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary injuries.
Primary blast injury: High-order explosives create huge blast waves which go through the body, inflicting a considerable and serious amount of damage to air filled organs. Primary blast injuries affect the lungs, eyes and brain.
Secondary blast injury: These are injuries caused by the debris from the explosion, which penetrates and cuts the skin, creating harmful wounds. Secondary blast injuries are among the most common injuries following an explosion. When an explosion has been intentionally created, for example a bomb, sharp objects and nails might be included which hurt people nearby.
Tertiary blast injury: These injuries occur if an individual is displaced through the air and impacts upon another object, or another object falls onto the individual, due to the force of the explosion. The strength of the blast can result in more severe tertiary injuries, including amputations and spinal injuries.
Quaternary blast injury: This relates to injuries which do not fall under the characterisation for primary, secondary or tertiary injuries, such as radiation, smoke and biological agents.
The injuries which individuals encounter as a result of an explosion are not just physical, they are mental as well. Victims can experience post-traumatic stress and anxiety due to the memory that an explosion has inflicted upon an individual’s mental health.

Environmental Impact

The debris, heat, fumes, residue and energy which is released in an explosion can certainly be harmful to the surrounding atmosphere, ecosystem and vegetation.
Nuclear explosions have huge effects on the environment due to the radiation involved. It has been calculated that a 1 megaton blast from a nuclear bomb poisons everything within a 2-mile radius, with the blast reaching temperatures in the millions of degrees Celsius. The extreme heat of thermal radiation burns everything in contact, such as vegetation and animals. Moreover, radioactive dust falls from the sky, allowing wind and water to carry this harmful dust even further to reach areas that the explosion did not actually touch, allowing it to contaminate even more ecosystems further out.
In April 1986, there was an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, located in Ukraine. This fatal disaster occurred due to a problem with the design of a reactor, which was subsequently operated by personnel who had not received appropriate training. The Chernobyl reactors were capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of electric power. An experiment was conducted on Reactor 4, which was badly designed and resulted in an explosion that broke through the steel and concrete lid on the reactor. Consequently, radioactive material was released into the atmosphere.
An evacuation of 30,000 surrounding inhabitants occurred to try and limit the fatal effect which this radioactive material would have on their health. The workers tried to contain the heat and radioactivity, which was a huge risk to worker health. In 2005, the United Nations predicted that over 4,000 people had died due to the effects that the explosion at Chernobyl had.
The effects that an explosion can have upon the people, environment and infrastructure is startling, and demonstrates how serious explosions can be.

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There are three main types of explosions: chemical, mechanical and nuclear. Each type of explosion can be equally devastating and serious, causing unprecedented harm to the surrounding people, atmosphere and infrastructure. Therefore, understanding different types of explosions and how they occur is important.

An explosive substance or device has the potential to produce a large amount of energy quickly, reaching extremely high temperatures. This vast amount of energy occurs due to reactions that take place in explosive materials which can be chemical, mechanical or nuclear.

The different types of explosions are:

Chemical: Chemical explosions occur due to either decomposition or combination reactions, which are both exothermic reactions. Consequently, the rapid expansion of gas which is released forms a shock wave. There are two types of chemical explosives: High-Order Explosives and Low-Order Explosives.

High-Order Explosives: These explosives cause destructive shock waves, such as dynamite.

Low-Order Explosives: These explosives lack the over-pressurization wave which high-order explosives, such as gunpowder, create.

Mechanical: A mechanical explosion requires a physical reaction which is neither chemical nor nuclear. Mechanical explosions involve a high-pressure gas within a container expanding beyond the limit of a container’s tensile strength, resulting in the container bursting open to release the pressure. This release of contents from a container creates a shock wave. If the material which is stored in that container is flammable, a fire will ignite.

Nuclear: A nuclear explosion occurs due to either a fusion or fission reaction, which releases a large amount of heat and gas very quickly. The energy which is released heats the surrounding air and creates a blast wave. Regarding nuclear bombs, fusion and fission reactions are used within these.

Nuclear explosions release radiation and radioactive debris which can be seriously harmful to those in the surrounding area. Nuclear explosions can therefore be organised intentionally to cause harm and destruction to those in the surrounding area.

To date, there have only been two nuclear weapons deployed in combat, which were both launched by the United States against Japan during World War II. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, creating a huge explosion which killed approximately 80,000 people initially and destroyed 13 square kilometres. The huge quantity of energy released from the bomb managed to wipe out 90% of the city.

Subsequently, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, creating another deadly explosion which killed up to 40,00 people initially. In both instances many died immediately, but there have been a huge number of deaths since due to the long-term effects of radiation.

The suffering of this horrific nuclear explosion continues to affect citizens physically and mentally today, and demonstrates the truly devastating and immeasurable impact that explosions have on those who sadly suffer them. Therefore, understanding the different types of explosions is important.

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Explosions are caused by a range of complex reactions which result in the rapid expansion of gas and energy, forming an explosion. When certain gases are exposed to heat or increased pressure, reactions will take place to stimulate the explosion. There are different types of explosions which occur, such as natural, chemical, mechanical and nuclear explosions. Therefore, the causes of these different types of explosion all differ, and it is useful to understand what causes each type of explosion.

Natural Explosions

Natural explosions can be fairly common and occur after there is a large influx of energy. Volcanoes are a natural part of our landscape which experience explosions. Volcanoes erupt and create an explosion when magma rises up to the surface. This magma contains bubbles of gas, and when the pressure builds up, an explosive eruption occurs. The explosion can be destructive for those nearby and the surrounding atmosphere.
In March 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland exploded, marking its first eruption since 1821. Consequently, 700 people were evacuated from the area and stayed in Red Cross shelters for temporary safety. This explosion had huge effects upon the environment as ash from the explosion deposited dissolved iron into the North Atlantic, and the ash cloud also affected aeroplane traffic.

Chemical Explosions

Chemical explosions are caused by either decomposition or combination reactions that produce large amounts of extremely hot gas, which expands rapidly and increases pressure. The large amount of hot gas essentially forms shock waves, creating an explosion which can have shattering effects.
For example, gunpowder is one of the first chemical explosives which was used. Dynamite is also an example of a chemical explosive. When dynamite is ignited, it will burn rapidly and release incredibly hot gas and an explosion.

Mechanical Explosions

Mechanical explosions are caused when a high-pressure gas encounters a physical reaction, which consequently ruptures the container in which the gas is contained. Mechanical explosions involve the internal pressure of a contained gas becoming too high and expanding beyond the container’s strength, resulting in the container bursting and the contained gas escaping, creating an explosion.

Nuclear Explosions

Nuclear explosions are caused by either fusion or fission reactions. Fusion and fission reactions can be used in bombs; the splitting of the nuclei of the fissile elements creates a bomb’s core.
Fusion Reactions: These reactions require high temperatures and are initiated by fission reactions.
Fission Reactions: The fission reaction is a process which involves an atom’s nucleus splitting into smaller particles, releasing neutrons and lots of energy.

Common causes of explosions in the workplace

  • Electrical Hazards: If static electricity builds up over time, a spark will be ignited, and if a combustible element is included, the explosion can be huge.
  • Hazardous Chemicals: Certain workplaces handle hazardous chemicals, and a tiny small spark can ignite a fire or explosion.
  • Combustion Engines: Certain workplace environments have combustion engines within them, but if something goes wrong, an explosion can occur.
  • Flammable liquids and gas: Workplaces which use flammable liquids and gas are at a greater risk of fires and explosions occurring due to the hazardous nature of the work which is taking place.

Explosions can be caused by a range of reactions, creating dangerous shock waves which can have a range of serious consequences. Therefore, understanding why explosions occur can be useful.

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In this article:

  • What is a medical emergency?
  • Types of medical emergencies
  • What to do in a medical emergency
  • Legal requirements for medical emergencies at work

What is a medical emergency?

A medical emergency can be defined as a serious and unforeseen situation that has been caused by a sudden illness or injury, requiring urgent medical attention.

A range of medical emergencies can occur in the workplace, but sometimes the type of workplace you are situated in and the nature of the work can determine the type of emergencies which happen. If you work in a high-risk workplace, such as a construction site, the types of medical emergencies may include falling from height and injuries from tools. However, the types of emergencies which occur in a low-risk workplace, such as an office, might be related to health, such as a stroke. It is important to prepare for all types of medical emergencies in the workplace.

Types of medical emergencies could include:

  • Cardiac arrest/heart attack
  • Choking
  • Continuous bleeding
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Slips and trips
  • Falling from height
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Allergic reactions

Medical emergencies are likely to occur more often if the workplace environment is not maintained safely and securely. If the office area is littered with wires and unsafe equipment, then employees could easily fall over and hurt themselves.

High-risk workplaces, such as construction sites, where employees are working at height or working with flammable materials, is naturally more dangerous and therefore could result in a higher rate of medical emergencies.

Medical conditions which can instigate heart attacks and seizures are unforeseen, and therefore we cannot know when these medical emergencies will occur. However, being prepared and knowing how to deal with these types of emergencies will ensure you can help an individual if such an emergency occurs.

What to do in a medical emergency

The key to handling medical emergencies in the workplace is to anticipate different types of emergencies before they happen, so that you have a medical procedure in place which you can initiate immediately.

UK employers have a responsibility to ensure health and safety is maintained in the workplace, and this involves teaching employees how to handle a medical emergency. Designated employees will need to undertake first aid training to develop the skills and confidence to handle medical emergencies, for example how to perform CPR and how to stop continuous bleeding.

There are three fundamental aspects to carrying out an initial response to a medical emergency:

Check: Check over the injured individual to assess what type of medical emergency they have encountered.
Call: Call 999 so that emergency life support and help will arrive as soon as possible.
Care: The designated first aiders in the workplace should provide the relevant medical emergency procedure.


If you find someone unconscious but breathing, check if they have any other obvious injuries such as a bleeding wound. If there are none (and you don’t think they have a spinal injury), get them into the recovery position and wait with them until medical help arrives. Make sure their airway remains clear and they’re still breathing properly.


If someone is suffering from severe choking (unable to shout, speak or cough), it’s likely they need immediate help to clear the blockage. Stand behind them and support their chest with one hand, whilst giving them up to five sharp blows to the back – between their shoulder blades – with the heel of your other hand. If this doesn’t work, administer five abdominal thrusts. Lean them forwards, pressing your fist above their navel and covering it with your other hand, and pull into them sharply, inwards and upwards. Repeat these processes until help arrives. Please note that abdominal thrusts shouldn’t be performed on pregnant women or very young children.


If someone in the workplace receives a burn or scald, run the wound under cold water for around twenty minutes. Remove any clothing (unless it pulls on the skin) and loosely cover the burn with a clean, dry dressing, or some cling film if it’s available. Severe burns should always mean the emergency services are called.

Electric Shock

Don’t touch someone who has received an electric shock unless the power supply has been cut off at the mains, which should be done straight away. The emergency services need to be called at the first opportunity.

Allergic Reaction

A severe reaction to an allergen, often called anaphylaxis, is a medical emergency. If someone in the workplace has such a reaction, use an auto-injector if they carry one and you know how to do so, and call the emergency services even if their symptoms begin to improve. Remove the allergen that’s triggered the reaction if you can. Lie the person down flat and monitor their condition until help arrives.

Providing CPR

If a colleague has collapsed and appears to be unconscious and not breathing, they will require CPR. The first aiders in the workplace will be trained to deliver CPR. CPR is usually a repeat cycle of thirty compressions, with two rescue breaths. This should be continued until further help has arrived.

Having a defibrillator in your workplace is not a legal requirement in the UK. However, defibrillators have recently saved the lives of many people who could otherwise have experienced fatal consequences. Having a defibrillator in the workplace is becoming more and more important.

Legal requirements for medical emergencies at work

It is a UK legal requirement to maintain health and safety in the workplace, and this includes conducting medical emergency procedures. Therefore, as an organisation it is essential to train and practice medical emergency procedures with your employees, to ensure that if a medical emergency does occur, everyone is prepared to act appropriately.

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 requires employers in the UK to ensure that there is adequate equipment, facilities and personnel to conduct first aid for their employees, in case an employee falls ill or has an injury in the workplace.

Organisations across the UK have different workplaces and needs. Some workplaces will be significantly more dangerous than others due to the nature of their work. It is important to ensure that you apply the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 specifically to your organisation’s workplace.

These regulations apply to all UK workplaces, including organisations with less than five employees and those who are self-employed.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) states that UK employers must report work-related medical incidents to the HSE. This information must be stored in line with the Data Protection Act. After a medical emergency procedure has taken place, the employer needs to ensure the necessary legal steps have been complied with through consulting RIDDOR.


The UK HSE is responsible for regulating health and safety law across organisations in the UK. The HSE will prosecute an employer if they have allowed significant risk to occur in the workplace and demonstrated a disregard for health and safety standards.

The HSE offers support and guidance to encourage UK organisations to maintain health and safety standards in the workplace. The HSE provides a syllabus for content which should be included in a first aid at work course, as well as a due diligence checklists for employers to evaluate their first aid training provider.

If an organisation fails to rectify a health and safety breach, prosecution could take place. Prosecution can result in hefty fines and the tarnished reputation of the organisation.

Across 2017/18, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimated that 1.4 million people suffered from work-related illnesses, and 147 workers died at work across 2018/19. These statistics highlight the importance of conducting and preparing for medical emergency procedures in the workplace, as they could save peoples’ lives.

Medical emergency procedures in the workplace can appear daunting, but with prior training and knowledge of how to act, it can ensure that everyone is well-prepared to deal with medical emergencies. 

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Explosions can occur anywhere and at any time. Explosions can be frightening and cause disruption to the lives of those in the surrounding area. You can’t predict whether you will experience an explosion but making yourself aware of the certain steps which you can take to get aware from an explosion safely, could save your life.

There are different types of explosions:

Chemical Explosions: Chemical explosions occur due to an exothermic reaction which releases large shock waves.

Mechanical Explosions: Mechanical explosions occur due to a physical reaction which leads to high-pressure gas expanding beyond a container’s strength and releasing shock waves as a result.

Nuclear Explosions: Nuclear explosions occur due to a fusion or fission reaction which releases a blast wave.

Ways to get away from an explosion safely

  • If you find yourself in a crowd, try not to panic but to move with the crowd away from the explosion.
  • Move as quickly but calmly as possible away from the explosion.
  • Look for a place of shelter which is secure where you can stay temporarily. Do not take shelter under a building which looks like it is crumbling or has been affected by the shock wave.
  • Do not use elevators to exit a building.
  • Stand away from doors and windows which could potentially blast open.
  • If there is smoke, remain close to the floor.
  • If you are trapped underneath debris, try to gain attention from others by banging on anything nearby or using a light to capture attention. As a final resort, shout for help. It is important to try not to shout when trapped in order to save breath.

What to do after an explosion

  • Seek urgent medical attention. Even if you don’t have any visible injuries, a doctor will need to clarify this.
  • If you have become separated from your loved ones, call the police.
  • If you saw anything which could be important information for the police, ensure you inform them with as much detail as you can.
  • The effects of an explosion can continue long after the event and have an impact on your mental health, so it is important to seek help.

In May 2017, a bombing took place at Manchester Arena, resulting in 22 innocent lives being taken. The bomb contained sharp objects such as bolts, which harmed people further, resulting in 50 injured people.

It has been reported that since the explosion happened, 3,500 of those who were involved have sought psychological support due to the serious effect that explosions have upon the mental health of victims. Therefore, explosions have both physical and emotional effects.

Those in the surrounding area of the Manchester explosion did everything possible to help the affected victims to find safety away from the explosion. Nearby hotels opened the premises for victims to take shelter, and taxi drivers picked people up for free and drove them home to ensure that people could get away as safely as possible.

Understanding simple steps which can help you and your loved ones to get away from an explosion safely could save your lives.