Equivalence of First Aid at Work, Offshore First Aid and Offshore Medic Qualifications
First aid issues in the workplace are subject to two separate sets of regulations. First aid in onshore workplaces is subject to the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 (FAW) while first aid offshore is subject to the Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (First-Aid) Regulations 1989 (OFAR), each with its own ACOP and guidance. Much of the content of the courses is common to both sets of regulations so HSE has considered whether certificates issued by HSE approved training organisations, under OFAR could be used for FAW purposes.
There are two levels of qualifications under OFAR, offshore medic and offshore first aid. There is currently only a single first aid at work qualification under FAW. The review also considered the purposes for which a paramedic qualification could be used under OFAR.
The role of the offshore medic is a highly specialised one and it is clear that it could not be fulfilled by a first-aider, whether OFAR or FAW qualified, nor by a paramedic without considerable additional training and experience. Since the course syllabus specifically includes all the elements of the OFAR course it is clear that an offshore medic could perform the offshore first aid role.
The HSE offshore first aid syllabus includes all the elements of the FAW syllabus so there is no reason why an OFAR certificate should not be accepted as equivalent to an FAW one. This should apply to both acceptability to employers and training organisations. Thus if an OFAR first-aider decided to become an FAW first-aider they should be permitted to take an FAW requalification course if they wished. However this would result in the issue of an FAW certificate. They would effectively have "downgraded" and would no longer be qualified for the offshore role. To requalify they would have to take a full OFAR course for reasons discussed below.
There is also no reason why an OFAR first aid certificate should not be recognised as equivalent to an FAW one as a training qualification.
FAW trained first-aiders do not have all the skills required by the OFAR syllabus and are not qualified to perform the offshore first aid role. Nor would it be appropriate for them to gain an OFAR certificate by taking an OFAR requalification course. They would have to undertake the full OFAR course. To ensure consistency of approach it is necessary to apply this rule equally to someone who has previously "downgraded" from an OFAR qualification.
Paramedics were recognised for all FAW purposes as of 1 September 2008. They have the more advanced skills required by the OFAR syllabus so it is logical that they should be similarly recognised for OFAR purposes.
As of 1 December 2008 the following rules for equivalence of qualifications will apply:
- A valid offshore medic qualification issued in accordance with OFAR will be equivalent to either an OFAR or FAW first aid certificate, for the purpose of both first aid practice and training;
- An OFAR first aid certificate will be equivalent to an FAW certificate in terms of both first aid practice and training. This includes the possibility of an OFAR first-aider requalifying, for FAW purposes, through the FAW system;
- Registered paramedics (already recognised for FAW purposes) will have that recognition extended to OFAR first aid practice or teaching, but for teaching purposes they would have to be able to provide evidence of teaching qualifications or experience in line with the relevant guidance;
- An FAW certificate is not an acceptable qualification for OFAR first aid purposes and cannot be upgraded by taking an OFAR requalification course.