HSE First Aid Requirements in the Workplace

HSE First Aid Requirements in The Workplace

At Authentic Training, one of our most popular courses is the Level 3 First Aid at Work course.

We run it for people from all different organisations and from all different walks of life – because organisations of all kinds, from very big to very small, have to think about first aid in the workplace at some time or other.

The 1981 Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 made it law for all employers to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.

Even if you’re a one-man or one-woman business, there may well come a time when you start taking on staff and need to think about having an assessment of your first aid needs and appointing a named first-aider.

So let’s address the first question that business owners often ask when it comes to first aid in the workplace.

First Aid needs assessment: How many first aiders do I need?


The HSE, the Health and Safety Executive, exists to keep people safe wherever they are – where they live, where they work and in their environment.

The HSE provides guidelines on the number of first aiders each organisation needs, but it’s important to remember that all businesses and workplaces are different.

According to the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, business owners are required to “provide adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and people so your employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work.”

In terms of first aiders, what it boils down to is this.

– If you have fewer than 25 employees, you only need one appointed first aider.

– If you have between 25 and 50 employees, you need one Emergency First Aid at Work-trained first aider

– If you have more than 50 employees, you need one First Aid at Work-trained first aider per 100 people.

However, all that changes if your workplace is classed as “high risk”. High-risk workplaces involve high-risk activities where staff work with dangerous machinery or heavy equipment. Typical high risk workplaces include factories, building sites, and health services.

If your workplace is classed as high risk, then you are likely to need one Emergency First Aid at Work-trained first aider for every 25 staff on your books.

I have a small business with a small office. Do I need a HSE First Aid needs assessment?


All organisations and workplaces are different and will have different requirements with regard to first aid. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all you have to do is appoint a first-aider, send them on a EFAW or FAW course and carry on as before.

Unfortunately, making a first aid needs assessment that the HSE will be happy with is not that simple.

As a business owner, you have an obligation to make appropriate first-aid arrangements for everyone in your workplace.

This is more than a headcount – you need to look at the circumstances of your workplace, your workforce and any risks they may face before deciding what provisions you need to put in place.

You might have a very small team and only need a first-aid box and a named person who will be in charge of first-aid arrangements – like dialling 999 and stocking the first-aid box. In such circumstances, your first aider won’t need specific first-aid training.

(Having someone whose job it is to dial 999 may seem superfluous to requirements but you don’t want two ambulances turning up together or, worse,

none coming at all.)

In addition to the number of first aiders, you need to think about your other employees. It is your responsibility to ensure there is:

– A well-stocked first-aid kit

– Information for employees regarding its location

– Information for employees regarding identity of the appointed first aider

What’s the difference between an appointed person, a trained first aider and an emergency first aider?


An Appointed Person is the person who makes any first-aid arrangements which need making.

This is the person who calls the emergency services and keeps the first-aid box well stocked (of which more later).

After a risk assessment has been carried out, you might decide that you need more than one appointed person. The good news is that a trained first aider doesn’t need specific first aid training.

A Trained First Aider requires official training and must be able to give first aid treatment should the need arise.

In the event of a serious accident or incident taking place, emergency services will still need to be called but having a trained first aider in place reduces the risk of serious injury or death in any workplace.

An Emergency First Aider will have taken Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training and will be able to spot and diagnose specific injuries or health problems.

Again, an emergency first aider does not supersede emergency services but they can stop the situation from getting worse before help arrives.

What do I need in my first aid kit?


It’s important to remember that the contents of a first aid kit vary from one organisation to the next, dependent on the outcome of the first-aid needs assessment. However, according to the HSE, in a low-risk workplace, a typical first aid kit would include:

  • A leaflet giving general guidance on first aid
  • Individually wrapped sterile plasters, appropriate to the type of work;
  • Sterile eye pads
  • Individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile
  • Safety pins
  • Large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
  • Medium-sized sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
  • Disposable gloves

The HSE recommends not keeping tablets and medicines in the first aid box, but you may want to include painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

For further information, British Standard BS 8599-1 contains more information on the contents of workplace first-aid kits.


My business involves machinery and dangerous materials – how many first aiders will I need?


This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on the number of staff you have and how significant the risks they face are.

Before you start answering the question, carry out a first aid needs assessment, taking into consideration the workplace, the workforce, and the hazards and risks.

To make this easier for you, we’ve included a First Aid Needs calculator on our website. Just follow the link here.

First aid kits for high-risk workplaces


If your first aid needs assessment deems your workplace to be high risk, then a simple first aid kit will not be sufficient for your needs.

Before considering what extra supplies you need to have in stock, you need to think about the type of the work you do and the hazards and risks your workers face on a day-to-day basis.

There are a range of first aid kits available, including construction site kits, Chemical Splash first aid kits, major incident kits and many more.

First Aid Training: HSE First Aid Training courses for my staff


Authentic Training runs a three-day Level 3 First Aid at Work course which covers the entire RQF First Aid at Work syllabus.

The course covers a huge range of areas, including the role and responsibilities of a first aider, managing an unresponsive casualty, CPR and defibrillation, dealing with a heart attack, recognising and dealing with a stroke and treating burns and scalds.

Successful students are then qualified to be Trained First Aiders in their workplace.

There’s more information about it here.

We also run a one-day Emergency First Aid at Work course, which covers the roles and responsibilities of an emergency first aider, how to assess an incident, managing an unresponsive casualty, giving CPR and defibrillation and the recovery position, along with other conditions such as choking, seizures, shock wounds and bleeding, minor injuries, cuts, grazes and bruises and minor burns and scalds.

There’s more information about that here.

We hope you have found this short guide to First Aid Requirements in the Workplace useful.

If you’re looking to more help or advice, or have any questions about the courses we offer, we’d love to talk to you.

To give us a call and speak to one of our expert trainers, ring 0151 546 5151 and ask for John or Kris.

Alternatively, send us an email at info@authentictraining.co.uk and we’ll get back in touch as soon as we can.

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