A Guide to Safe Practice in Art & Design

4.8   First Aid in the Classroom

The DfES has recommended that employers base their assessment of the appropriate number of qualified first-aiders on the potential risks to pupils. Amongst the factors that should be considered are the age range and activities of the children, the nature of potential hazards and the layout of the building. It can be useful for all art and design staff to have at least a basic knowledge of first aid so they can offer assistance in the case of accidents. If the art department is located in a separate block it would be particularly useful for at least one of the staff to hold a valid first aid certificate.

Pupils and all staff should be clear about the safety rules associated with the art department and the appropriate steps to take in any emergency, including evacuation procedures. All pupils should be told what to do if they have an accident, and this advice should be repeated regularly. First aid kits must be provided in every school and kept in easily accessible places known to teachers and pupils. There should be at least one kit in the art department of a secondary school, and where there are several specialist studios, workshops or classrooms each room should have its own.

The names of the nearest first-aiders should be displayed on all school notice boards. They should also be listed on each first aid box, together with instructions for dealing with burns, electrical shock and asphyxiation. The location of telephones, and the numbers to ring in case of emergency, should also be displayed.

The first aid box should be clearly labelled and made of suitable material designed to protect the contents from damp and dust. The contents should be simple, usable by any member of staff, and appropriate to the needs of the school. A kit should include:

  • a card with general first aid guidance
  • a supply of individually-wrapped sterile adhesive dressings appropriate to the work undertaken
  • sterile eye pads with attachments
  • triangular bandages (preferably sterile, but if not, sterile covering appropriate for serious wounds should also be included)
  • a selection of sterile wound dressings, which should include medium-sized sterile unmedicated dressings (approximately 10cm x 8cm - standard dressings nos 8 and 13 BPC)
  • large sterile unmedicated dressings (approximately 13cm x 9cm - standard dressings nos 9 and 14 BPC and the Ambulance dressing no 1)
  • extra-large sterile unmedicated dressings (approximately 28cm x 17.6cm Ambulance dressing no 3)
  • safety pins.
The use of antiseptics is not necessary for the first aid treatment of wounds. Your school medical officer can advise on any additional items. The contents should be regularly checked to ensure that the necessary stocks are maintained. If there is a possibility that clothing might have to be cut away, blunt-ended stainless steel scissors (minimum length 12.7cm) should be stored in an appropriate place.

Whenever possible mains tap water should be used for eye irrigation - if this is not readily available sterile water or normal saline solution (0.9 per cent) in sterile packs should be provided. Eye baths, cups and refillable containers should not be used for eye irrigation.

Disposable plastic gloves and bags for soiled or used dressings should also be provided near the first aid equipment and checked regularly to ensure that the stock is maintained and in good condition. Local authorities should be contacted for advice concerning disposal. See section 4.9 for precautions that must be taken to avoid possible infection by the HIV virus.

In the view of the Health and Safety Executive an accident must be reported if it relates to:

  • any school activity, both on or off the premises;
  • the way a school activity has been organised and managed (e.g. the supervision of a field trip);
  • equipment, machinery or substances;
  • the design or condition of the premises.

Further advice can be found in Guidance on First Aid in Schools which can be accessed at: www.teachernet.gov.uk/_doc/4421/GFAS.pdf