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First Aid in the Workplace


Employers must make sure employees get immediate help if taken ill or injured at work.

The law applies to every workplace and to the self-employed.

You must have:

  • a suitably stocked first aid kit;an appointed;

  • person or people to take charge of first aid arrangements;

  • information for all employees telling them about first aid arrangements.

Assess your first aid needs

What ‘adequate and appropriate’ first aid arrangements are depends on the work you do and where you do it. You’re best placed to understand the nature of your work, so you should assess what your first aid needs are.

You must consider:

  • the type of the work you do;

  • hazards and the likely risk of them causing harm;

  • the size of your workforce;

  • work patterns of your staff;

  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first aiders and appointed persons;

  • the history of accidents in your business.

You might also consider:

  • the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers;

  • how close your sites are to emergency medical services;

  • whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites;

  • first aid for non-employees including members of the public.

You don’t have to write down your findings, but if you do, it will allow you to record how you’ve decided on your first aid arrangements.

Appoint someone to take charge of first aid

An appointed person is someone who is in charge of your first aid arrangements. This includes looking after the equipment, facilities and calling the emergency services.

You can have more than one appointed person and they don’t need to have any formal training.

An appointed person must always be available whenever people are at work.

What to put in a first aid kit

The contents of your first aid kit should be based on your first aid needs assessment. As a guide, where work activities are low-risk (for example, desk-based work) a minimum first aid kit might contain:

  • a leaflet with general guidance on first aid (for example, HSE's leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work);

  • individually wrapped sterile plasters of assorted sizes;

  • sterile eye pads (check sterile items for expiry dates, replace expired items, disposing of them safely);

  • individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;

  • safety pins;

  • large and medium-sized sterile, individually wrapped, non-medicated wound dressings;

  • disposable gloves.

This is a suggested contents list.

If you are buying a kit look for British Standard (BS) 8599. By law, your kit doesn’t have to meet this standard, but you should check it contains what you’ve identified in your needs assessment.

First aiders and training

You might decide that you need someone trained in first aid, sometimes known as a first aider.

There are no hard and fast rules on how many trained first aiders you should have. It depends on the nature of your work and its location.

First aiders are trained by a competent training provider in:

  • emergency first aid at work (EFAW) – at this level they’re qualified to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work, or;

  • first aid at work (FAW) – qualified to EFAW level but can also apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses.

First aid training

Use the findings of your first aid needs assessment to decide:

  • if you need someone trained in first aid;

  • what’s an adequate and appropriate level of training;

  • how many people you train, and;

  • keep training up to date with regular refresher courses.

First aid for homeworkers and co-working spaces

If your work is low-risk, such as desk-based work and you work in your own home, you don’t need any first aid equipment beyond normal domestic needs.

If your work involves lots of driving, you may want to keep a first aid kit in your vehicle.

If you’re self-employed and based in a co-working space (shared work-space with other self-employed or employed workers) you’re legally responsible for your own first aid provision.

However, you can make joint arrangements with the other occupiers. Usually, in a written agreement, one employer takes responsibility for first aid for all workers on the premises.

If you would like to discuss attending a first aid course, or arranging a course for staff at your premises, please contact Lyn on 07970 537108, or e-mail


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